Are the two caste lords in Uttar Pradesh, SP’s Mulayam Singh Yadav and BSP’s Mayawati, being realistic in their declared aspiration for India’s top job?
The answer is both yes — if there’s a hung Parliament after the 2014 election followed by political chaos, they may have their chance to have a go at the chair — and no — both the parities have no possibility of mopping up the numbers needed to capture Delhi.
Mohammed Muzammil, vice-chancellor of Rohilkhand University and a political expert, says, “When Chandrashekhar became prime minister (without the numbers in November 1990), it was a game of personalities. But today, it’s going to be a numbers game and they both stand on a weak wicket.”
Although their cadres are making the usual noise, the two chieftains know that they will need at least 40 Lok Sabha seats to even think of staking claims to their dream.
The highest the SP has managed to bag so far is 36 seats in 2004, when it had contested in 237 constituencies in 23 states and polled 4.32% of the votes. And the best performance by the BSP — 21 of the 500 seats it had contested in 2009.
But Allahabad-based veteran SP loyalist Vinod Chand Dube said, “The prospects of Yadav becoming PM are the brightest if regional players, including the communists, muster more MPs than the Congress and form a conglomerate.
Nitish Kumar, an old socialist, will support Yadav and so would the backward leaders from the south.”
He said it could be a government supported by the Congress.
And that’s why Yadav has continued his support to the Manmohan Singh government, despite having serious differences with the government on several issues.
Though Dube would like to dismiss Mayawati as a non-entity, her party’s rally in Lucknow last Sunday showed no signs of an ebbing clout. It also ended with a vow to win enough seats in UP to make “behenji” a major player (read: Make her the first dalit PM) at the Centre.
Aware of the fact that a party with a base in one state cannot even be considered a runner-up for the top job, Mayawati told her cadre: “We are a national party. After the monsoon session, I will be concentrating on other states.”
Mayawati, the strongest voice of the Dalits, has an edge over the Yadav chieftain for one reason: She has no ideological baggage and won’t hesitate to have a post-poll alliance with the BJP — after all, she allied thrice with the BJP to become UP chief minister — while such a move is unthinkable for Yadav.
What’s more, it’s politically correct for the two national parties to prop up a Dalit — and a woman at that — if they fail to muster the required numbers.
Even Union minister Beni Prasad Verma, who has not lost any opportunity to mock Yadav’s prime ministerial ambition, is quiet on Mayawati’s aspirations. And Mayawati, it seems, is convinced that she is a serious contender in the race for the top job — she is more vocal on BJP’s 2014 face, Gujarat CM Narendra Modi, than on Yadav.