The third Front is desperate for some Maya magic, and, it appears, they are willing to go to any length for it. The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief has already announced her candidates in several states. In many of these, they will be contesting directly against nominees of other Third Front constituents. But the Front doesn't mind. And Mayawati has not been asked to withdraw them.
Reason: Uttar Pradesh's 80 Lok Sabha seats, the highest among all states.
Even if her BSP wins half that number — which it stands a fair chance of doing — it will jack up the Front’s tally as no victory in any other state can.
The present situation underlines Mayawati's strong bargaining power vis-a-vis the Front, which knows that without her support, it is no match for the UPA or NDA. And, in this scenario, Mayawati will be taking one more shot at assuming stewardship of the fledging group on Sunday. The meeting — at her New Delhi residence — will present an opportunity for her to occupy national political centrestage.
Left sources hinted that Mayawati was likely to withdraw the 48-hour deadline her party had reportedly set for the Third Front leaders demanding that she be declared their prime ministerial candidate.
“We believe Mayawati will clarify her stand on rumours of a Third Front prime ministerial candidate involving her,” CPI-M’s Prakash Karat said.
The dinner, being hosted on the occasion of the late Kanshi Ram’s death anniversary, will be attended by H.D. Deve Gowda (JD-S), N. Chandrababu Naidu (TDP), Chandrashekhara Rao (TRS) and V. Maitrreyan (AIADMK), apart from Left leaders Karat, Sitaram Yechury and A.B. Bardhan. The Biju Janata Dal’s B.J. Panda has reportedly expressed his willingness to attend.
“So far we have been talking bilaterally. This will be our first round of discussions involving Third Front allies, which have an electoral understanding in various states,” Karat said.
For the first time in six months, Karat, Yechury and Bardhan will open dialogue with Mayawati over the possibility of formally engaging her as a partner. Shortly after the July 22 trust vote, talks over pre-poll alliances had snapped between the BSP and Left.
Before the dinner, Third Front leaders are scheduled to meet separately. “BSP leaders have not set a pre-condition on Mayawati’s prime ministerial candidature. There are no issues on that count,” said TDP’s N. Ramamohan Rao.
However, in a statement, UP’s BSP president Swami Prasad Maurya said there should be no confusion among Third Front leaders about the fact that Mayawati was the prime ministerial candidate.