Maya surprise: wants to ride on UPA boat
Mayawati announced BSP’s support at a meeting with party leaders, saying Singh had addressed her as “younger sister” and urged her to adopt a positive attitude towards formation of the UPA government to strengthen secular forces, reports Vikas Pathak. The motley crew | Small partiesdelhi Updated: May 20, 2009 01:15 IST
Parties cutting across the political spectrum are flocking to the Congress in the hope of stitching up alliances — from the Samajwadi Party to the Nagaland People’s Front.
JD(S) chief H.D. Deve Gowda spoke to Manmohan Singh, while his son H.D. Kumaraswamy met Sonia Gandhi, ostensibly to keep communal forces at bay.
But Tuesday’s biggest surprise came from Mayawati, who had relentlessly attacked the Congress till May 16.
An insecure BSP — it won 20 seats in UP, despite increasing national vote share from 5.3 to 6.22 per cent — moved quickly.
First, Mayawati announced BSP’s support at a meeting with party leaders, saying Singh had addressed her as “younger sister” and urged her to adopt a positive attitude towards formation of the UPA government to strengthen secular forces.
Then party general secretary S.C. Mishra pleaded with Sonia to talk to Mayawati. Sonia didn’t, but Singh did.
The swift moves were an attempt to block SP’s Mulayam Singh Yadav. “This is to prevent SP from getting closer to the Congress,” said a UP official.
JNU sociologist Vivek Kumar said: “This may also be the BSP’s way to establish its secular credentials, as Muslims have drifted away thinking it can ally with the BJP.”
Pending CBI files in the Taj Heritage Corridor and Disproportionate Assets cases could be another reason.
Expecting a good showing in UP, Mayawati was looking to wean away Dalit votes from the Congress in other states. But results saw the Congress getting 18 per cent votes, up from 12 in 2004. The outcome: 21 seats in UP, from 2004’s nine.
This election also saw Muslims returning to the Congress after 20 years. This may be a signal for others, like upper castes, to return as well, with the BJP pushed to the fourth position.
This has made Mayawati re-think her position. She is now wary of the Congress regaining the stature of an umbrella party in UP.
Ajit Singh in a fix
The Congress’s insistence that the RLD merge with it has put the party in a quandary. Although the Ajit Singh-led party with five MPs is eager to ally with the Congress, it is not ready for a merger. What Singh wants is to support the UPA from within in lieu of two berths in the Council of Ministers.
(Inputs from Srinand Jha & Saroj Nagi)