Mayawati signals BJP; Congress can’t wait to twist knife
Mayawati on Thursday expressed her willingness to support the BJP in the upcoming legislative council elections.
“I want to say today that in the next MLC election, our party will ensure the victory of the BJP candidate and will do anything to defeat the second candidate of Samajwadi-Akhilesh, whose conspiracy has been defeated,” Mayawati said in Lucknow, referring to Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav.
The Samajwadi Party had partnered Mayawati in last year’s general election.
“It will weigh heavy on them. In the next MLC election, whenever it is held, we will respond to yesterday’s development. We will use our full force, even if it means voting for the BJP; we will defeat their second candidate,” the BSP leader added.
Mayawati said a “false rumour” was being spread by her rivals that she was getting closer to the BJP.
The Congress saw in Mayawati’s declaration a public confession of a secret deal with the BJP, decisively pushing her out of the Opposition frame.
Priyanka Gandhi, the Congress general secretary in charge of Uttar Pradesh, offered a terse remark on Mayawati’s announcement: “Iske baad kuchh baki hai (Any doubt left after this)?”
Priyanka had earlier described the BSP leader as an “undeclared spokesperson for the BJP”.
Mayawati had softened towards the BJP since the general election, offering token criticism over the Hathras atrocity and tacit support on the citizenship amendment and the abrogation of the special provision in Article 370 last year.
At the same time, the BSP leader had bitterly attacked the Congress and accused Priyanka of “dramabazi” in Uttar Pradesh. Priyanka too burnt her bridges with Mayawati, unlike Sonia Gandhi who had adopted a conciliatory attitude towards the Dalit leader.
That the Congress has decided not to have any association with the BSP became clear when Uttar Pradesh unit chief Ajay Lallu followed up Priyanka’s sarcasm with an acerbic jibe. “Hathi ab sarkari ho gaya/ Dalit-vanchit samaj ka daman kar rahi sarkar ka saathi ho gaya (The elephant -- the BSP’s symbol — has now turned sarkari, becoming friendly with the forces that oppress the downtrodden),” Lallu tweeted.
Many senior Congress leaders pounced on Mayawati, underlining how she had been dancing to the BJP’s tune for the past several months.
Although Mayawati linked her readiness to support the BJP to her desire to defeat the Samajwadis in the legislative council elections, arguing they had betrayed and insulted her party, the Congress portrayed the remark as an alliance with the BJP.
Defending Priyanka’s combative posturing, party general secretary Tariq Anwar told The Telegraph: “We have accommodated Mayawati for far too long despite her deep ties with the BJP and a clear understanding that her ideology and principles mean nothing in her lust for power.”
Anwar added: “Mayawati has been using politics for personal positioning. She brazenly strikes compromises with her secular commitments. Her consistency is manifested best in her opportunism. She cannot be trusted. She has gone so far as to campaign for Narendra Modi in the Gujarat elections. She has fielded candidates with the sole purpose of harming the Congress’s prospects in many states. Her alliance with Asaduddin Owaisi’s AIMIM in Bihar is part of the same sinister game. Both Owaisi and Mayawati have been tasked to harm the Congress-RJD alliance in Bihar.”
Asked if the front that includes Owaisi, Mayawati and Upendra Kushwaha would significantly dent the Congress-RJD’s prospects in Bihar, particularly in Muslim-dominated Seemanchal, Anwar said: “Their job is to create confusion and mislead the voters. Owaisi has played this game in Maharashtra. But the people of Bihar can see through the game. Where was Mayawati when the Hathras incident happened? While Owaisi may harm us in a couple of seats, overall their vote percentage will be negligible.”
Owaisi has blamed the Congress and the RJD for the BJP’s return to power in Bihar.
He says Nitish Kumar defected to the BJP because the Congress and the RJD could not hold him in alliance. He describes the Congress and the RJD as “vote thieves” who sought Muslim votes to install the BJP in Bihar. The Congress and the RJD hope the voters will not buy this logic.
Mayawati’s untimely declaration of willingness to support the BJP may further dent the chances of her front, and Owaisi and Kushwaha will find it difficult to explain her decision.