Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati, who was tireless in her praise of the Congress and the United Progressive Alliance till three days ago, has changed her tune over the weekend.
She threatened to snap her party’s support to the UPA if the Centre does not fulfil the state’s demand for a special package of Rs 80,000 crore.
Mayawati made the demand last month and listed it as an achievement of her government. Finance minister P. Chidambaram had visited Lucknow on Saturday, but could not give any assurance to Mayawati on the issue.
The turnaround on August 26 came during an election meeting at Farrukhabad district where Congress has fielded Vijay Singh for the by-election. Vijay earlier returned as Samajwadi Party candidate from Farrukhabad in May and switched to the Bahujan Samajwadi Party (BSP).
Shortly after the BSP removed him, Congress fielded him for the by-election. The BSP’s stakes are high, as it has fielded state Health Minister Anant Misra, who must get elected in order to survive as a minister.
And, more importantly, he is a cousin of Mayawati’s high-profile advisor Satish Chandra Misra.
In her speech on Thursday to mark 100 days in office, Mayawati had praised the Centre for helping the state restructure Rs 15,000 crore World Bank loan, saving the state Rs 1,450 crore annually in debt clearance. She has been repeatedly assuring that she would not like to have confrontations with the Centre like her predecessor.
On Sunday, she was all fire and brimstone.
“I have met the prime minister twice in the past three months to demand a special package for the state but he has not responded. I sent him reminders but he has remained non-committal. If the Centre continues to ignore our request, the BSP will lead a campaign to unseat the UPA government," she said.
Mayawati also criticised the prime minister for overlooking her government’s proposal to ensure 30 per cent job reservations in private sector for scheduled castes and tribes, minorities and the poor from the upper castes. She also made personal comments against the state UP Congress president Salman Khurshid.
Political observers feel Mayawati’s diatribe against Congress is not just election time outburst. She is positioning herself to take on Congress in the event of mid-term elections.
The chief minister has already set up committees to scout for candidates fitting her new successful multi-caste Bill in the states that witness assembly elections during in the next one-year.
In Gujarat, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, the party’s electoral interests clash with Congress and bonhomie, seen during the President’s and vice-president’s elections, is already a thing of past.