Mayawati stays away from key opposition meet in Delhi; Mulayam, Akhilesh also absent
While the Bahujan Samaj Party said that for it, the BJP-led NDA and the Congress-headed UPA were two sides of same coin, the Samajwadi Party gave no reason for its absence
Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati and Samajwadi Party founder Mulayam Singh Yadav and party chief Akhilesh Yadav, on Monday skipped a meeting called to discuss formation of an anti-BJP grand alliance for the 2019 Lok Sabha election.
While the SP cited no reason for Akhilesh or Mulayam’s no-show, senior BSP leader Ambeth Rajan indicated that Mayawati skipping the meeting had much to do with her party’s stated policy of maintaining an equal distance from the Congress and the BJP.
He said the NDA and the UPA were two sides of the same coin for his party.
“The BSP chief has made it clear that she will maintain equal distance from the Congress as well as the BJP since both the parties are hardly concerned about the welfare of the suppressed community. For the BSP, it was not an opposition parties’ meeting, but a gathering of a few enthusiastic leaders eager to form a joint front,” he said.
Mayawati stayed away from the meeting, which saw leaders of 21 parties attend, in spite of efforts by Telugu Desam Party (TDP) chief and Andhra Pradesh chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu and senior Congress leaders to bring the BSP on board.
The opposition leaders urged the BSP chief to send party general secretary SC Mishra to the meeting but Mayawati refused to budge, a person familiar with the matter said.
The fact that she had made up her mind not to attend the meeting could be gauged from Mishra cancelling his plan to visit Delhi, he said.
A senior BSP leader, who did not wish to be named, said rather than joining the grand alliance, Mayawati was working to form a third front of regional parties.
Talks with the Samajwadi Party, the Janata Congress Chhattisgarh and the Indian National Lok Dal were in an advanced stage, the insider said. Some of the parties that attended the opposition meeting were also in touch with the BSP, he said.
“These parties have assured to project Behenji (Mayawati) as the prime ministerial candidate in the 2019 Lok Sabha election. After the announcement of the assembly election results of five states on Tuesday, a meeting of the regional parties leaders will be held to give final shape to the third front before the Lok Sabha election,” he said.
“In UP, the BSP-SP pre-poll alliance will get rolling in mid- December. Seat-sharing talks between the SP- BSP leaders was on,” he said.
As for the SP’s absence, party state spokesperson Rajendra Chaudhary said, “Decisions on meeting like this are always taken by the national president. He has not specified any reasons for us. So we cannot say.”
Mulayam had said in Lucknow on Sunday that it was important to attend the meeting, but he skipped it.
The party stayed away though both Akhilesh and Mulayam met Chandrababu Naidu in the national capital on November 1.
Both Naidu and Mulayam had then expressed hope of a tie-up.
Mulayam had said: “I and Chandrababuji have a long-standing and cordial relations. There never was a problem. None of us ever spoke against each other. If Naidu, and several other leaders and I unite, the atmosphere will change in the country.”