LUCKNOW: Mayawati quit her seat in the Rajya Sabha in a fit of anger Tuesday. It looked like a spontaneous decision but could not but have been calculated. She has been chief minister of UP four times and an experienced MP. So she cannot have been ignorant of the house rule that the time to speak in Parliament is given as per the strength of a party. The BSP has just six members in the Rajya Sabha. So she was given five minutes (initially three but extended to five). But she turned it into a prestige issue.
By quitting her seat in the Rajya Sabha, Mayawati is playing for the martyrdom sweepstakes. By portraying herself as the champion of the Dalit cause, she is attempting to arrest the drift of her traditional vote bank in UP towards the BJP, which left with just 19 MLAs in the Assembly and a duck in the Lok Sabha.
Here are five factors she’s reckoning with:
1. She has only 9 months of her term left
By quitting now, the BSP loses only 9 months of her term in the Rajya Sabha, which ends in April 2018. At best, she might have sat through two more Parliament sessions ---winter and budget.
2. Her reelection to Rajya Sabha is not certain
Having won only 19 seats in the UP Assembly, the BSP is in no position to send her back to the Rajya Sabha for another term. She would need the assistance of kind parties in another state, maybe the RJD. That would have been humiliating to the BSP supremo and a setback to the confidence of her cadres.
3. The resignation drama may reignite her vote bank
Her dramatic resignation is an attempt to impart some oxygen to the gasping blue brigade in UP. At the moment, morale in the BSP is sagging and this may just be the first step towards redemption in the 2019 Lok Sabha election.
4. The BSP ranks are dwindling
The BSP supremo is fighting with her back to the wall to keep her party’s political relevance intact. But it’s been plagued with desertions. Only a few names like S C Mishra, Ram Achal Rajbhar and Lalji Verma have stood by her. Her sacking of party stalwart Naseemuddin Siddiqui was a major blow to party’s image among Muslims. So it was imperative for her to take a step like this to re-establish herself as a selfless, undisputed Dalit leader and woo back some leaders back to the party.
5. This is a gamble to win a Lok Sabha seat
Since her party’s rout in the UP Assembly election, Mayawati is believed to have changed her ways. She is now more accessible. Political pundits say that her resignation gambit is a prelude to an attempt to get into the Lok Sabha by contesting a bypoll. Seats vacated by Yogi Adityanath and Keshav Maurya are due for bypolls. And that’s her chance.
And here’s why this gamble might not work
1. BJP will happily take her RS seat
Her resignation may in fact end up having a debilitating effect on diminishing party, and enable the BJP to win the seat vacated by her, thereby consolidating its position in the Rajya Sabha, where it desperately needs more numbers.
2. She’s been outflanked by the Ram Nath Kovind move
Mayawati’s desperation has increased ever since the BJP picked up Ram Nath Kovind as the NDA candidate for president. She tried to take credit for it by claiming it was because of her efforts that compelled Manuwadi parties to choose a Dalit for the most coveted post in the country. But the truth is younger leaders like Chandrashekhar of the Bhim Sena are finding more resonance from Dalit masses. Plus, non-Jatav Dalit sections led by parties like the SBSP are distancing themselves from her party.