Increasing suspense over the composition of the budding anti-BJP joint opposition alliance, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati ticked off Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar who appeared willing to be part of the alliance, while saying she was ready to join it only if her party got ‘sammanjanak’ (respectable) number of seats to contest.
On Saturday, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in Uttar Pradesh had released Chandrashekhar aka Ravan from jail, two months ahead of his scheduled release. Soon after his release, he had referred to Mayawati as his ‘bua’ and vowed to uproot the BJP at the centre.
But Mayawati who belongs to same Jatav sub caste of Dalits as Chandrashekhar – quite popular among Dalit youths in western UP – appeared unimpressed by Chandrashekhar’s rhetoric, alleging he was a BJP stooge out to create a split in Dalit votes.
“For political reasons, some people are trying to relate to me. I want to clear that I have no such ‘bua-bhatija’ or ‘bhai-behan’ relatives. If he was indeed a well-wisher, he would have come to me to fight the BJP together rather than floating his own outfit,” she said.
Mayawati was speaking on Sunday soon after moving into her new 9 Mall Avenue residence she had purchased in 2010 during her stint as UP chief minister from 2007 to 2012.
“I would like to tell my people that my larger relation is with Dalits and tribals who have stood by me through thick and thin. Over the years various organisations have been floated for narrow personal interests as their leaders say something to people in public and do exactly the opposite. If these people are truly well-wishers of the community, they needn’t have floated a separate organisation,” she said.
Mayawati also added for good measure that while she was all for an anti-BJP alliance, she would be part of the front only if she was given respectable number of seats to contest.
Political observers see this as a move by the BSP leader to bargain for a lion’s share of seats. Earlier Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav had said that he was willing to make “any sacrifice” to ensure that the alliance lived on.
However Mayawati bluntly made it clear that the BSP could even contest alone if it did not get its way on seat-sharing.
For the BJP, whose strategists were keeping a close watch on Mayawati’s announcements, this was good news.
“It’s evident all is not well in the opposition camp. Chandrashekhar’s pre-release has confused Mayawati. Her repeated assertion that she could contest alone is a pressure tactic which is bound to create tension in the opposition ranks. We aren’t complaining,” said a BJP strategist soon after Maya’s statement.
Mayawati also criticised the BJP government at the centre for issuing an advisory suggesting that Dalit be replaced with scheduled caste. “The BJP government’s logic is that this should be done as the word scheduled caste is mentioned in the constitution. To that I wish to ask that even Hindustan wasn’t mentioned in the Constitution. Why do BJP leaders use the word. They should use Bharat instead,” she said.
She accused the BJP of marketing the death of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. “Those who are now making a big show of Vajpayeeji’s death never walked his path during his lifetime,” she said.
First Published: Sep 16, 2018 17:51 IST