Eye on 2014, BSP to double volunteer force

In the run-up to the next Lok Sabha elections, the BSP has decided to double the strength of its volunteer force to over 28,000, of which 20 per cent will be women.

The Bahujan Volunteer Force, popularly known as BVF among party workers, was being strengthened for managing booths, mobilising voters and averting violence during the elections. A BSP leader said party chief Mayawati prefers that the security at the party's rallies and management of booths is supervised by own volunteers and not policemen.

In the last five years, when the BSP was in power in UP, the BVF cadres had been lying low as the party supporters did not feel threatened. "The BSP is not in power now, so there is always a fear of violence during election. A dedicated force of young volunteers will be of much help," said the party leader.

Started by the party founder, Kanshi Ram, in 1980s, the BVF has been managing the security of rallies held by the BSP. Although the volunteers are party workers, they are nurtured as a separate unit only for the task of managing security during elections and party rallies and programmes.

Party workers aged between 18 and 40 years are recruited into the BVF. The force is headed by a Vidhan Sabha convenor and co-convenor at the level of Assembly constituency and by a district convenor and a co-convenor at the district level. A separate wing of women volunteers is headed by women convenor at the district level. At the state level, the force is supervised by party general secretary Naseemuddin Siddiqui.

The force had played an important role during the 2007 Assembly elections for mobilising party supporters and ensuring that they reached the polling booths and cast their votes.

Siddiqui said earlier there were 40 volunteers in every Assembly segment, but now there will be 70 volunteers. He said earlier there were about 10 per cent women in the BVF but now the women's participation will be of more than 20 per cent.

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