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HindustanTimes Wed,17 Sep 2014

With eye on 2014 elections, Maya keeps all options open

Vikas Pathak, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, March 20, 2013
First Published: 23:50 IST(20/3/2013) | Last Updated: 23:51 IST(20/3/2013)

For the second day running, BSP supremo Mayawati pledged outside support to the UPA government as it battles a crisis to retain power, saying she wanted to weaken “communal forces” by doing so.

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“We do not support the anti-Dalit policies of UPA and there are several issues on which we do not support UPA but despite that, we extend support to it from outside to weaken the communal forces,” Mayawati said Wednesday.

Mayawati’s need for peace with the arises out of pending graft cases against her. She also wants the psychological solace of a relatively friendly central government in the context of a hostile government in UP.

Further, the “communal-secular” pitch gives her a platform to side with either the Congress or a third front to form a government at the Centre in 2014.

Mayawati realises that despite its huge tally, the SP’s vote share of 29 % in the 2012 UP polls was marginally above the BSP’s 26%.

Making inroads into SP’s Muslim constituency can improve the BSP’s prospects in 2014, thus increasing Mayawati’s bargaining power.

What is more crucial, there is evidence that SP’s grip over Muslim votes has been weakening, says UP-based academic AK Verma. “As per CSDS data, SP got 52% Muslim votes in 2002, 46% in 2007 and 39% in 2012,” Verma told HT.

Verma says that staying in Congress’ good books is crucial for the BSP as it faces a hostile state government.

Indeed, there is a subtle softening of Mayawati towards Congress after the SP came to power: earlier, she used to tear into Congress and Rahul Gandhi in her speeches.

She has also bailed out the government in its tricky moments, particularly on FDI in retail, though seeking government backing on a Bill provided quotas in promotions to SC/STs in return.


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