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Maya keeps UPA guessing

- BSP chief launches party’s campaign for 2014 polls, softens FDI stand

Lucknow, Oct. 9: Mayawati today kept up the suspense on her continuation of support to the Centre and sent the Congress a cryptic signal by suggesting the probability of an early general election.

The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief told a rally here that her party’s national executive would meet tomorrow to decide whether to continue its outside support to the UPA.

But she added: “Looking at the political developments, it seems the general election will be held ahead of time.”

If Mayawati indeed withdraws support to the government, it will go against the current perception that she is yet to recover from the blow of her Assembly poll defeat and is averse to an early general election.

Her rival Mulayam Singh Yadav, on the other hand, is hoping to carry forward the momentum before anti-incumbency sets in against his son Akhilesh Yadav’s administration. Without the BSP’s 21 members, the UPA’s Lok Sabha strength will fall to 275 — which is uncomfortably close to the majority mark of 271. Minus the Samajwadi Party’s 22 members as well, the government will be reduced to minority.

“If Mayawati withdraws support, Mulayam may be compelled to follow suit soon as he would not like to be seen as a Congress ally for long,” a senior Samajwadi leader said.

The Samajwadis refused to react to Mayawati’s supposed “ultimatum” to the UPA today. Chief minister Akhilesh said in Azamgarh: “You cannot rely on what she says; let her act.”

In her speech, Mayawati appeared to be sending confusing signals to the Congress. She showed her anger by accusing the government of deliberately delaying a promotion quota bill for Dalits at the Samajwadis’ behest. At the same time, she appeared to soften her stand against FDI in multi-brand retail.

The Congress put up a brave face, MP Jagdambika Pal dismissing Mayawati’s talk of early polls as her way of “merely alerting her workers on the next general election”.

Mayawati virtually launched her party’s campaign for the 2014 polls at the rally, held to mark the sixth death anniversary of BSP founder Kanshi Ram and attended by an estimated five lakh people. The former chief minister seems intent on making the promotion quota a major issue in 2014. She urged party workers to create awareness among the Dalits and backward castes.

“When my government comes to power, either in the state or at the Centre, you will get the benefits but till then hold meetings on this; tell your people how important it is to get reservation in promotions, too,” she said.

Mayawati had introduced a promotion quota for Dalits in Uttar Pradesh in 2009 but both the high court and the Supreme Court ruled against it, and Akhilesh withdrew the reservation after coming to power.

On retail FDI, Mayawati said: “If we see in the future that the farmers and small traders are benefiting from the FDI, we shall welcome it and reconsider our stand. But at present, we don’t find any merit in this.”

The rally resonated with attacks on the Akhilesh government. Mayawati alleged the state had turned into a “Crime Pradesh”. Even as she was saying this, a lawyer was shot dead in Mau in the state’s eastern parts. Two days ago, when Akhilesh visited Etawah, two persons were murdered.

Assets case

The Supreme Court today clarified that it had not prohibited the CBI from probing the disproportionate assets (DA) case against Mayawati, PTI reported.

It issued notices to the Centre, CBI and the BSP chief on a private citizen’s plea to review its July 6 verdict that had quashed the case on the technical ground of the CBI overstepping its jurisdiction.

The two-judge bench said it would clarify its verdict, but made it clear that the CBI “is at liberty to probe the DA case and they can approach the government for this”.

“We never said the CBI has no power to investigate. It can do so, but has to get sanction from the state government,” it said, adding that its verdict quashing the case was not meant to protect anyone.