BJP backs BSP boss to spite rival

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By SANJAY K. JHA in Delhi
  • Published 17.07.09
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New Delhi, July 16: The BJP today slammed Rita Bahuguna Joshi’s alleged remarks about Mayavati as an insult to womanhood at a time the party feels threatened by the Congress’s rise in the heartland state.

BJP leader Sushma Swaraj also asked for an apology from Sonia Gandhi for the Uttar Pradesh Congress president’s remarks, which have landed her in jail.

The BJP’s position does not stem from any desire for a tactical alliance with Mayavati. Rather, the party, being gradually pushed out of the frame in Uttar Pradesh owing to the Congress-Bahujan Samaj Party tussle, is worried about the Congress grabbing the main state Opposition’s slot.

The BSP’s decline has been evident over the past few months and the BJP has been dreading that the Congress would be the main beneficiary. All of a sudden, Joshi has provided a spark with the potential to trigger a fresh churning in state politics, allowing the BJP to fish in troubled waters.

“Rita had crossed all limits of political attack against a rival and in the process forgotten the dignity of women,” Sushma, deputy leader of theBJP in the Lok Sabha, said.

The BJP stands to gain if the Dalit and Muslim votes remain divided between the Congress and the BSP, and strengthening Mayavati can be a way of ensuring this split.

Sushma’s party would prefer to have in the fray a stronger regional party with a limited caste vote bank, such as the Samajwadi Party or the BSP, rather than the Congress with its wider social appeal.

By painting Sonia and her colleagues as anti-Dalit, the BJP also hopes to strengthen itself in states where it is locked in a direct fight with the Congress. Although siding with Mayavati may cost it some upper caste votes, the BJP’s immediate agenda is to prevent the Congress from running over a weakened BSP.