BJP bid to woo Behenji in UP fails
By Subhash Mishra - LUCKNOW
Published: 08th Sep 2013 10:03:43 AM
Twenty years after it last forged an alliance, the Congress and the BSP are appearing to join hands again with an eye on the Lok Sabha polls.
At the Mahadalit Rally held at the Ramabai ground, Lucknow, in October last year to celebrate BSP founder Kanshi Ram’s death anniversary, Mayawati had left the Congress in a flap by stating that she would “ponder, deliberate and announce” her party’s stand on issues like allowing the FDI in multi-brand retail and the diesel price hike, criticising the Centre of being “anti poor”. Then she did an about turn, and bailed the government out during the voting on FDI in retail by staging a walkout in the Lok Sabha, thereby helping the UPA to get enough numbers in its favour.
Mayawati had earlier expressed her displeasure with Congress over its “attitude” on the bill for promotions in government jobs for SCs and STs but also said the BSP would continue its support to the UPA till its term ends. “We extended support to UPA to see that communal forces do not get strengthened at the central level.... I supported it for three-and-a-half years. Now only one-and-a-quarter year is left.... We will give them further chance,” she had said in an interview. Last week, she turned down the BJP’s invitation to attend a meeting of Opposition leaders to discuss the strategy on the coal scam. “The way Mayawatiji has been supporting us for the last few months, I hope she will continue,” Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said recently.
The BJP had been trying to woo behenji, but with little success. Mayawati had sought the saffron party’s support for the promotion quota bill. The BJP had asked her to back the Opposition in its fight against “corruption” in the UPA. “I want to request Mayawati that she should at least once support us in our fight against corruption against so many scams such as the 2G, CWG, there is issue of airport land and Coalgate,” BJP spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad has announced during a visit to Lucknow. But Maya expelled Hamirpur MP Vijay Bahadur Singh for supporting Narendra Modi. She blames the BJP, instead of Congress, for implicating her in the disproportionate assets case.
When BSP last ruled Uttar Pradesh, relations between the BSP and the Congress had dipped to sub zero temperatures. Mayawati as chief minister had stalled all developmental projects in Rae Bareli and Amethi, the constituencies of Sonia Gandhi and Rahul respectively. Frustrated by Mayawati’s gameplan to defame the Gandhi family, Sonia had threatened to go to jail and lead a mass agitation if the UP government did not stop the attack on her. In the 2012 elections also, Congress leaders touring the state branded Mayawati’s government as the “most corrupt”. However, a rapprochement between the two women leaders seem to have happened; Mayawati often enquires about Sonia’s health and has assured her party’s support for the Congress. Mayawati had earlier announced Ram Lakhan Pasi as the BSP’s candidate in Rae Bareli, but soon she not only withdrew his candidature but also sacked him from the BSP for his comments supporting Narendra Modi.
Meanwhile, the Samajwadi Party chief, Mulayam Singh Yadav has been indulging in double speak, first attacking then surrendering to the Congress on issues like FDI or the Food Security Bill.
The popularity of the Congress has taken a severe beating because of factors like the price rise, corruption and border intrusions by Pakistan and China. Though voters have started praising the earlier Mayawati government for good administration and maintaining law and order, the shadow of corruption still haunts the BSP. The BSP also believes Akhilesh’s charisma is waning and Maya would be able to capitalize on that. The BSP strategy is to stop the Samajwadi Party in its tracks and emerge as third single largest party after the Congress and the BJP.
The Congress leaders are confident that it would not be a repeat of the 1996 debacle because then the Dalits and the upper castes were at logger heads but Satish Chandra Mishra’s social engineering won the support of both in 2007. The Congress leaders have explained to the BSP leadership that with Narendra Modi emerging as BJP’s prime ministerial candidate , Muslims would not go to the SP in a national election. They feel the BSP-Congress alliance would revive the old Brahmin-Dalit-Muslims equation under one umbrella. Satish Mishra’s more than 50 Brahmin rallies have been largely successful in UP.
The mood among the BSP leadership is yet to crystallize in favour of the alliance because it feels that the Congress has no support base in UP and its leadership would not able to transfer its vote bank to the BSP which has enough clout over its followers to shift its votes to any of its the alliance partners. Another hurdle is that despite repeated offers for pacts in the southern states Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala, the Congress has declined to contest the elections under one banner with the BSP. Thirdly, the Congress is number one at the batting end at the national level, which means an erosion of part of its SC/STs-Muslim vote bank.