Uttar Pradesh chief minister Mayawati thrives on confrontation. Of course, even before the Congress cosied up to her arch-rival, Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh Yadav, she had hardly been a pliable UPA cheerleader. But once the Congress-SP alliance was formalised, it was clear that henceforth she would be ruthlessly adversarial towards Sonia Gandhi.
Her latest move, canceling the land allotment for a much hyped rail coach factory in Sonia Gandhi’s Rae Bareli constituency at the last minute, three days before Sonia was to perform the bhoomi puja there, is perfectly in keeping with her style. Although the state government has said it will provide an alternative site for the project, it is more than likely that officials will not be in any hurry to do so. The Congress's hope of getting the project off the ground well before the Lok Sabha elections are announced, seemed doomed.
“Mayawati is anti development,” declared Akhilesh Pratap Singh, UP Congress spokesman. He claimed that there were 10 projects slated for Rae Bareli for which permits were being withheld by the state government. But this is hardly fair. Mayawati’s decision is purely political, despite the fig leaf of ‘farmers’ opposition to the land being acquired’ being used by Mayawati to justify it. It does not indicate any policy orientation on her part.
What it does show is that Mayawati was indeed riled by the successful rally Sonia held last month in Dadri – part of the district to which Mayawati belongs. Nor has she taken lightly Rahul Gandhi’s much publicized tour of flood hit eastern UP – where he criticized the government’s flood relief efforts. The centre’s deafening silence in response to her demands for a special package for drought-and-flood hit Bundelkhand is also being avenged.