The initial bonhomie between the Congress and the BSP when Mayawati first took over as chief minister in May 2007 did not last long.
Relations between the two parties began to quickly deteriorate, reaching their nadir on Saturday when Mayawati formally withdrew support to the UPA government.
The parting of ways will have no effect on either the UPA government at the Centre — where BSP has only 18 MPs, whose switchover to the Opposition makes no difference to the government — or the BSP government in Lucknow where Mayawati has an absolute majority.
BSP sources claimed the growing cosiness between the Congress and the Samajwadi Party — BSP’s implacable foe in UP — left the party no choice but to snap its ties.
In turn, Congress sources said it was good riddance, since the BSP, while claiming to support the UPA at the centre, had actually been working against the Congress across the country.
Congressmen are convinced that BSP candidates who contested the assembly polls in Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh and even Karnataka in a big way, took away crucial Dalit votes from their party, enabling the BJP to win in all three places.
The BSP drew a blank in all three states, but played the role of ‘spoiler’ to the hilt. When asked about it, Mayawati has on several earlier occasions, blandly declared that the BSP was trying to expand its base everywhere, and that was bound to affect all rival parties.
BSP leaders said the withdrawal of support will also allow the BSP to go full throttle while criticising the price rise, and what they called the Centre’s ‘neglect’ of UP, in case Lok Sabha polls are held soon.
They also intend to make cases lodged against Mayawati, both relating to the Taj Corridor and her disproportionate assets, campaign issues by claiming that the Congress was victimising Mayawati.
Nor did Mayawati’s decision come out of the blue. She had first made the threat in January 2007. Addressing party MPs and MLAs on June 10, she had announced she would be withdrawing support within a month.
At the meeting, party workers were directed to launch a statewide movement on the price rise, and the Centre’s unwillingness to release the large development package for the backward regions of UP.
“When the BSP was out of power and SP leaders kept targeting the Congress, we stood up in its support,” said a BSP leader. “Behenji (Mayawati) made every effort to develop good relations with the Centre. These were not reciprocated.”