Stability for Congress, ‘betrayal’ for Maya
The already strained relations between the Congress and Mayawati plunged to a new low on Tuesday as all six Bahujan Samaj Party legislators in Rajasthan merged with the bigger ally, providing greater stability to the Ashok Gehlot government.
The MLAs said their decision was driven by the interests of Rajasthan as the conflicting roles of supporting the government and opposing the Congress on the ground was creating confusion and wasn’t a sound strategy to counter the BJP.
They said chief minister Gehlot was the best person to serve the state and they wanted to strengthen his hands.
The MLAs who have joined the Congress are Rajendra Gudha (Udaipurwati), Jogendra Singh Awana (Nadbai), Wajib Ali (Nagar), Lakhan Singh (Karauli), Sandeep Yadav (Tijara) and Deepchand (Kishangarh Bas).
A similar merger had taken place during Gehlot’s earlier tenure in 2008-13, when six BSP MLAs had joined the Congress to provide full majority to the government.
In the current Assembly, the Congress now has 106 members in the House of 200, along with the outside support of 13 Independents.
Mayawati lashed out in anger, declaring the Congress “untrustworthy” and even delved into history to recall how anti-Ambedkar the national party has been.
In a series of tweets, the BSP leader said: “The Congress has given proof of how untrustworthy it is. This is a betrayal which has been done when the BSP was providing unconditional outside support to the Congress government. Instead of fighting its opposing parties, the Congress is only hurting parties who support it.”
She also called the Congress a “cheat” and added: “This makes the Congress an anti-SC, anti-ST and anti-OBC party and it has never been serious and honest about the reservation rights of these groups. The Congress was always opposed to Bhimrao Ambedkar and his humanist ideology. Due to these reasons, Ambedkar had to resign from the post of the country’s first Law Minister. The Congress never honoured him with a Bharat Ratna, which is sad and shameful.”
Gehlot chose to react in a dignified manner, without locking horns with Mayawati who has the capacity to harm the Congress in many states.
Even recently, Congress leaders from Haryana and Maharashtra had pleaded with her in vain to align with them in the upcoming Assembly elections.
The BSP, in large parts of the country, cuts into Dalit votes — a section of the electorate that has traditionally been Congress supporters.
“I welcome the decision of BSP MLAs as they have decided to merge with ruling Congress for sake of political stability and development in Rajasthan,” Gehlot said. “There has been no horse trading and six MLAs took a unanimous decision so that we can together work for development of state. Mayawati ji’s reaction is natural but she should understand Congress party has not managed it in any way. It is a conscious decision of BSP MLAs in interest of state and their electorates.”
The greater political stability coming with this consolidation will bolster the Congress’s chances in the local body elections due next November. The MLAs, who had been in touch with the chief minister, met Assembly Speaker C.P. Joshi and submitted a letter informing him about their decision to join the Congress.
With all the six legislators joining the Congress, they have bypassed the anti-defection law.