| Mayavati at the news conference in New Delhi. Picture by Rajesh Kumar
New Delhi, June 12: The Congress-led ruling alliance now has the 60,000-odd Bahujan Samaj Party votes for the presidential election in the bag.
Mayavati today declared her party would support the United Progressive Alliance candidate but wouldn’t say who the nominee would be.
The UPA, counting the Left votes, already commanded 5.34 lakh of the electoral college’s 10.98 lakh votes. Mayavati’s support should give it the majority mark, barring cross-voting or an unforeseen blow from an ally.
The Opposition National Democratic Alliance has about 3.64 lakh votes and a combination of eight regional parties — the so-called third front — about 1.05 lakh.
The BSP chief told a news conference this afternoon that her support to the ruling alliance didn’t come with any strings attached. The BSP has not staked claim to the Vice-President’s post.
Mayavati had dropped hints about her decision last night after hosting a dinner at her Delhi home for UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi. They had a “long talk”, the BSP chief said today, “during which a consensus was reached after a discussion on some names’’.
“But now you would want to know who that person is,’’ Mayavati teased the media. “You will soon hear from Sonia Gandhi. I don’t want to reveal the cards.’’
She offered a similar response when specifically asked about the possibility of Union home minister Shivraj Patil being fielded.
Asked if she might be joining the UPA, the Uttar Pradesh chief minister said such an offer had come from Sonia when the alliance came to power in May 2004. The BSP had said it wouldn’t join the government but could support it from outside to keep the “communal forces” at bay.
In a long preamble, Mayavati explained why she had taken so long to reach a decision. She was being wooed ever since her party came to power in Uttar Pradesh a month ago.
The BSP vote would play a “decisive role’’ in the presidential polls, Mayavati said. “That’s why, instead of revealing my cards in a hurry, I came to the decision after much consideration.’’
Mayavati made it clear that Vice-President and BJP leader Bhairon Singh Shekhawat would not get the BSP’s vote even if he stood as an Independent. Her party didn’t want to encourage “communal” forces. “I want to make it clear that the BSP has always fought against communal forces. So the question of supporting an NDA candidate does not arise.’’
Anticipating questions on her three earlier tenures as chief minister with BJP support or in coalition with that party, Mayavati argued those were “special circumstances’’.
The people and the newly elected MLAs didn’t want another round of elections after a hung verdict, she said.