Bhopal, Oct. 30: The words seemed straight out of a typical Mayavati invective. The only difference was this time she herself was the target.
Expelled Bahujan Samaj Party leader Phool Singh Baraiya today slammed his former chief in a speech laced with words like “raid”, “political vendetta,” “threat to life” and “high-handedness” of government agencies — Mayavati’s stock phrases in recent times.
“I am being terrorised. Hired goons from Uttar Pradesh are on the lookout for me. The police have been registering false cases; raiding my house to fix me. If anything happens, chief minister Digvijay Singh and BSP chief Mayavati would be held responsible,” Baraiya said at a news conference where he announced the formation of a new outfit — the Samata Samaj Party — that will take on both the BJP and the Congress.
Fear was written all over Baraiya’s face. Five lathi-wielding loyalists threw a ring around the former Madhya Pradesh BSP chief as he spoke bitterly of Mayavati but refrained from using offensive language against “Behenji”. Barely 30 days ago, he had been dubbed the BSP’s “chief ministerial face” by Mayavati in Bhopal.
Baraiya, who was expelled yesterday, said his only “crime” was he refused to play second fiddle to the Congress in the coming state polls. He accused the BSP of joining hands with the Congress and said he and his supporters were expelled because they were seen as an “obstacle”.
Twenty days ago, a missive had come from Mayavati asking him to step down as state BSP chief in favour of Sant Singh. The word from Mayavati was: “You are a chief ministerial nominee, therefore you need somebody to share the organisational burden.”
Another letter followed soon after. This time, the lady at Pandara Road, New Delhi, wanted Sant to leave the job for little-known P.P. Singh. Baraiya was asked to go slow on identifying nominees. The brief from the “top” was to look for ways and means to defeat the BJP and help out the Congress in Vindhya and Chambal where caste violence and social discrimination are routine.
A little defiance prompted the temperamental Mayavati to accuse Baraiya of siphoning off party funds and warming up to “Kamal ka phool” (the lotus symbol of the BJP).
Madhya Pradesh police appeared to take the cue, raiding his house and office. As the rebel was shown the door, BSP ranks fought over control of party offices in Gwalior, Guna, Bhind, Murena, Rewa, Satna and other places. Baraiya’s supporters were soon outnumbered.
Baraiya’s also lashed out at Digvijay, alleging that caste discrimination was so rampant in Madhya Pradesh that Dalit grooms were not even permitted to ride horses.
“Fifteen kilometres away from Bhopal, Dalits are barred from visiting temples. Local kiosks do not serve them tea even if they are paying ready cash,” he said.
In Madhya Pradesh, where the gap between the winner and the runner-up has traditionally been between 2 and 4 per cent, a tacit BSP-Congress understanding could hurt the BJP. Little wonder then that Uma Bharti sounded inquisitive about Baraiya.
“I believe he always wears the white headgear and always wears white,” the BJP’s chief ministerial candidate in the state was heard saying. “Is it (so)'”