Oct. 9: Mayawati today divined early elections and scheduled a meeting tomorrow to decide on continuing support to the UPA but the Congress is deriving hope from her stated open mind on FDI in retail and back-channel efforts to keep the prop in place.
Although Mayawati criticised the UPA for “anti-people policies” at a BSP rally in Lucknow today, sources said her confidant Satish Mishra was in touch with key Congress functionaries.
Congress sources said that till this evening there was no indication that Mayawati had made up her mind to pull down the Manmohan Singh government.
“She knows an early general election would become a distinct possibility if she decides to support a no-confidence motion. The question is who gains in such a situation, certainly not her party,” said a cabinet minister at the Centre. “There is no reason for her to change her mind now,” he added.
In her speech, Mayawati echoed her arch rival Mulayam Singh Yadav when she said: “Looking at the political developments, it seems the general election will be held ahead of time.”
She also expressed her displeasure by accusing the Centre of deliberately delaying a promotion quota bill for Dalits at the Samajwadis’ behest.
But 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.”
A Congress leader described her stand on FDI as “positive” and asked: “Why should she open another front and weaken the central government at a time Mulayam Singh is still better placed to face the election in Uttar Pradesh?”
Without the BSP’s 21 MPs, the UPA’s Lok Sabha strength will fall to 275 — uncomfortably close to the majority mark of 271 and too fragile to govern.
A Supreme Court clarification today is also expected to be viewed as an additional factor by Mayawati. The court, while admitting a review petition on Mayawati’s disproportionate assets case, said it had not prohibited the CBI from the investigation.
The court had earlier quashed the FIR against Mayawati in the disproportionate assets case. The court today clarified that “we never said that CBI has no power to investigate. It can do so, but has to get sanction from the state government.”
If the CBI pursues the case, it will give the Centre some leverage. Mayawati may also choose to wait a little while to see the Centre’s response and then decide her course of action.
Asked if the Robert Vadra controversy would force the fence-sitters to distance themselves from the Congress, the electoral prospects of which are in any case not considered bright, party leaders said mere allegations could not be taken as evidence of wrongdoing.
After rushing headlong to defend Vadra initially, the Congress has decided to hold fire till Mayawati makes her stand clear.
On the fresh allegations against Vadra, a Congress spokesperson said: “If anybody goes to court, the law will take its course…. Let them file a complaint and if anyone has done something illegal, consequences will follow.”