How is the result of this new experiment of appealing to the other castes?
Mayawati: Excellent results have emerged. We will see some surprising results. These exit poll results will prove to be meaningless. How come the channels find everything wrong with the ruling party and still rate it ahead of us in electoral performance? Even at the most conservative estimate we will win a majority. In both phases so far, our party has done exceedingly well.
What are the new challenges?
Mayawati: Providing good administration, restoration of law and order and restarting developmental activity. The law and order situation is very bad as the government is patronizing crime. But we have dealt with challenges before.
Are you happy with staggering of polls through seven phases?
Mayawati: Yes, it makes a big difference. As I said, there was no check on law and order. We are happy with the Election Commission’s decision. It is better that central forces have been asked to handle the polling booths.
Do you still think the elections should have been held under President’s rule?
Mayawati: No, we did prepare our workers to face the situation. We had demanded President’s rule. But the Congress backed out under pressure from Left parties. We are happy with the present election schedule. Although it puts tremendous pressure on me, because unlike other parties who get other leaders and film actors to campaign, I am required to lead the campaign all on my own. But I am prepared to face the situation.
Any special experiences of this year’s campaign?
Mayawati: The enthusiasm among the upper castes is very encouraging. My old supporters of course can’t wait for the changeover.
What are the factors helping your party this time?
Mayawati: The failure of the incumbent government on law and order. People now realize that we did not compromise on ideology to stay in power. I quit before I could be forced into compromising with any wrongdoers. We have been honest to Dr Ambedkar’s idea of social equality. Now the other castes have also acknowledged our commitment. Kanshiramji is not amid us. But his blessings continue to guide us.
What about those MLAs who left your party to join the ruling coalition? Are they creating any problems for you?
Mayawati: No, on the contrary, the people are rewarding those who stayed with us for their honesty. They will win with bigger margins this time.