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Maya smiles, Mulayam faces tough battle

BAHUJAN SAMAJ Party chief Mayawati couldn?t have asked for more. Her graph was already on the upswing when prominent backward leaders of two northern states, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, decided to plot the downfall of her main political rival Mulayam Singh Yadav.

india Updated: Jun 01, 2006 01:27 IST

BAHUJAN SAMAJ Party chief Mayawati couldn’t have asked for more. Her graph was already on the upswing when prominent backward leaders of two northern states, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, decided to plot the downfall of her main political rival Mulayam Singh Yadav.

And as the wrestler-turned-politician Mulayam fights the group of four — VP Singh, Lalu Prasad Yadav, Ram Vilas Paswan and Raj Babbar — a smiling Mayawati finds her battle half won. With the political health of both the Congress and the BJP, too, frail for a recovery before the 2007 elections, Mayawati knows that her fight, though apparently a four-cornered one, will actually be directly with Mulayam. And now the coming together of Mulayam’s detractors has made her task comparatively easy. In pursuance of their single-point agenda to politically harm Mulayam, they will together cut into his Yadav-Muslim-Rajput vote bank. Though Paswan is also in the group, he will do little harm to Maya’s vote bank of Dalits, as they have always seen him as an outsider.

What a stroke of luck for the lady, who till 2005-end was fighting a lone battle on various fronts — Kanshi Ram’s sickness, his unhappy family members and the Taj Corridor case with speculations rife about her going to jail any day. She bounced back with such vigour that today’s common perception in the bureaucracy, police and public is that Mulayam will have to  hand over the baton of power to Mayawati in 2007. And this perception is not confined to any particular area in the State, or a particular caste.

During a recent tour of eastern UP, it was clear that Mayawati was far ahead of her political rivals in terms of both her image and preparedness. However, time alone will tell if she will be able to sustain this undercurrent till the elections.

Even the Samajwadi Party rank and file has not remained untouched by this strange phenomenon. In fact, Mulayam even reprimanded his cadre. He told them bluntly, “You have lost confidence and are gripped by fear of her return to power. Your confidence should be back before we enter the electoral arena.”

The result is that not only have officers of various hues started sending feelers to her, but also sitting MLAs are willing to desert their respective parties for a BSP ticket.

The question is what makes Mayawati the frontrunner? The answer is simple.

First, her two other opponents, the Congress and the BJP, continue to be in a shambles. Thus, while they are still drawing their respective strategies for UP, Maya has already distributed tickets, identified her strong and weak areas and planned her campaign; so much so that she has her own strategy to take on the Congress in the event of Rahul-Priyanka deciding to lead the UP campaign. She is concentrating on weak areas in Central UP and  keeping her cards close to her chest. Second, the upper caste tilt towards the BSP. The party’s Brahmin face SC Mishra, who had played a key role in bringing members of the community into the party fold by organising dozens of Brahmin sammelans, is leaving for yet another Statewide tour shortly. His mission is clear: plug all loopholes in the Brahmins’ support to the BSP.  And as Muslims will support the winning horse, she will obviously be their first choice. As such, Mulayam has been drawing flak for his so-called closeness to NDA leaders.

Third, there is the common belief that in a hung house, Mayawati’s prospects of forming the government will be brighter than that of Mulayam. Both the Congress and the BJP will prop her up. Fourth, with law and order turning into a major issue, people are once again talking about her iron fist. Thus, she alone will get the advantage of the anti-incumbency factor against Mulayam.

Fifth, in this favourable scenario, the revival of the Jan Morcha is certainly a Godsend for her. While Raj Babbar and VP, joined by Lalu and Paswan, will expose the Mulayam Government, Mayawati will coolly implement her strategy to go it alone in the elections.