Founded in 1984 by Kanshi Ram, the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) is led by Mayawati at present. The BSP is contesting the 2019 Lok Sabha elections in a pre-poll alliance with the Akhilesh Yadav-led Samajwadi Party.
Kanshi Ram advocated for the rights of the backward and down-trodden and worked for the betterment of the Dalits. In 1989, the party contested its first elections in Uttar Pradesh and won 13 seats. In the next few elections, BSP gained ground in Uttar Pradesh by creating a support base among those from scheduled castes, scheduled tribes and other backward classes.
In 1995, the BSP’s Mayawati became the chief minister for the first time, but this was for a very short duration. Her second term as the CM of UP was very short lived, too. However, with the backing of the Bharatiya Janata Party, she came back to power in May 2002 and led the state government until August 2003. In 2002, she was named the successor to Kanshi Ram. She came to power again in 2007 with a stronger mandate.
Mayawati has been under the CBI scanner in the Taj Corridor and disproportionate asset cases. The BSP saw a continued downfall in both its Lok Sabha and Uttar Pradesh Vidhan Sabha tallies, despite a steady voter base. While it did not win even a single Lok Sabha seat in the 2014 national elections, it was reduced in 2017 to just 19 seats in the UP Assembly from 80 seats in 2012. The party, which has four members in the Rajya Sabha, including Mayawati, is looking for a resurgence in both national and state politics.
The BSP is influential in Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Bihar, Haryana and Andhra Pradesh, and its key leaders are Mayawati and Satish Mishra.