The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Mayavati hope for Advani let-off

Lucknow, Sept. 12: The Mayavati government in Uttar Pradesh is unlikely to issue the notification enabling resumption of the trial of deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani and other BJP and Vishwa Hindu Parishad leaders in the Babri Masjid demolition case.

Highly placed government sources indicated that the BSP-BJP government might seek more time or argue that issuing the notification now could aggravate the communal situation in the state and pose a law and order problem.

The sources pointed out that there were several indicators — apart from her invitation to Advani to address the BSP’s dhikkar rally on September 29 — to show that Mayavati is appeasing hardliners in the Hindutva brigade.

Last week, when Mayavati hurriedly summoned a news conference to berate Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, she was ostensibly objecting to his description of her Ambedkar Udyan dream project as an “aiyyashi ka adda”.

But it soon became clear that she had been stung more by the Samajwadi charge that her invitation to Advani amounted to her endorsement of the Ayodhya demolition. Samajwadi leaders claimed that the date of the rally coincided with the expiry of the Supreme Court deadline for the Uttar Pradesh government to clarify its stand on the issue.

Mayavati was technically correct when she pointed out that the apex court deadline expired on September 23 and not September 28 and lampooned her rivals for their arithmetic “illiteracy”. But she refused to disclose her government’s stand on the notification issue, parrying questions with a laconic “you will come to know when the Supreme Court takes up the case”.

“In the absence of a specific directive from the Supreme Court to issue the notification, Mayavati is unlikely to issue the notification because it will amount to throwing an open challenge to the BJP,” a state official said.

The BJP circles agree. “She would not have invited Advani to address the BSP rally if she had any plans to issue the notification,” a senior BJP leader said. BJP ideologues went a step further and pointed out that though Mayavati has continued to pursue her Dalit agenda during her third stint, “it has a distinct tinge of saffron which was absent during her earlier two innings”.

Some of them think that Mayavati is going out of her way to placate the Advani group, which has been trying to appropriate Ambedkar and adorn him in a saffron garb. “There is no anti-thesis between the Dalit consciousness and the Hindu consciousness and Dalit groups in the past have acted as front soldiers of the Hindutva brigade during communal conflicts,” they say.

Her decision to put the Scheduled Caste and Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act on the backburner is a pointer to this subtle ideological drift within the BJP.

During her 1995 and 1997 regimes, Mayavati had insisted on vigorous implementation of the law — popularly known as the Dalit Act — as a weapon against “atrocities by the upper caste”.

“This time, my government has issued strict instructions to use the Dalit Act only in extreme circumstances and use ordinary legislation in day-to-day administration,” Mayavati had told BJP’s district level functionaries on September 8.

The passage of the Prevention of Cow Slaughter (Amendment) Act by the Uttar Pradesh Assembly during its last session also shows that Mayavati is shedding the BSP’s original aversion to the “manuvadi” politics of the Hindutva brigade.

The original Act of 1955 imposed a partial ban and allowed the killing of bullocks over 15 years or even under it, if ailing. By imposing a total ban, Mayavati has now extended an olive branch to the hardliners within the BJP.

In this regard, Mayavati is following in the footsteps of her predecessor Rajnath Singh, many of whose decisions she has reversed. When he was the chief minister, Singh had written to Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee to expedite the Bill pending with the Centre since 1992 for its approval.

Mayavati knows that by not issuing the notification, she risks alienating her Muslim supporters in the long run. But she realises that keeping the Hindutva brigade happy is necessary if she wants to remain in power. Again, in the long run, an upper caste-Dalit coalition at the social level might prove helpful in bolstering her support base.

At the same time, Mayavati is hoping that that if Kalyan Singh — an accused in the Babri Masjid demolition case and considered among the principal authors of the act — stands by Mulayam Singh, the Muslims are bound to suspect the Samajwadi Party.

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