Lok Sabha elections 2019: Mayawati throws hat in PM ring with not-so-cryptic remarkUpdated: May 07, 2019 00:00 IST
A comment by Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati on Sunday at a public event in Ambedkar Nagar, where she appeared to hint at her prime ministerial ambitions after the results of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections are declared, has triggered unease among her opponents and speculation among her supporters.
Though the BSP president is not contesting the Lok Sabha elections, she said, “if all goes well”, she might have to.
“If all goes well, I will contest elections from here because the road to national politics passes through Ambedkar Nagar,” she said at a rally in support of party candidate Ritesh Pandey in the BSP stronghold.
The statement was taken by other leaders to mean that if she gets a chance to be prime minister as a consensus candidate of parties opposed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), she will enter the Lok Sabha in a bypoll. There is precedent that supports this. Former PM, PV Narasimha Rao, for example, got elected to the Lok Sabha six months after he was sworn in with a margin of more than 580,000 votes. On that occasion, the Congress candidate from Nandyal resigned to facilitate a bypoll.
Mayawati’s party is contesting 38 seats in Uttar Pradesh, where it is in alliance with the Samajwadi Party and the Rashtriya Lok Dal. SP leader and former UP chief minister Akhilesh Yadav indicated at the point of the formation of the alliance that he would focus on the state while Mayawati would play a larger role in national politics. Yadav has said on multiple occasions that the next prime minister would be from UP. The alliance is contesting in 78 seats out of the 80 in the state -- leaving Amethi and Rae Bareli for Congress president Rahul Gandhi and United Progressive Alliance chairperson Sonia Gandhi.
The BJP in Uttar Pradesh dismissed Mayawati’s Sunday comment as a “daydream”. “After May 23, she will wake up to the reality when even Samajwadi Party will desert her. As for us, we saved her life in the past, helped her become chief minister thrice and after May 23 when she will be all alone and needs our help, she could seek our help again,” said local BJP leader Chandra Mohan.
The Congress, for its part, did not delve into the merits of Mayawati’s suggestion. “In a democracy, anyone can become PM if they have the numbers. So yes, from that perspective, she might have made a point. In any case, by the end of the month the situation would be clear. As far as Congress is concerned, all that we know is that post-election, the present one [Modi government] won’t remain, and a pro-poor government will take office after May 23,” Congress leader Piyush Mishra said.
On March 20, Mayawati announced she will not contest the elections. She has won the Lok Sabha elections four times -- 1989, 1998, 1999 and 2004 when the Ambedkar Nagar constituency was called Akbarpur and was reserved for Scheduled Caste candidates --and has been the chief minister of UP four times.
BSP leader Molhey Gautam said on Monday that the party cadre has “decided to make Mayawati the next PM” by ensuring the victory of the alliance on maximum number of Lok Sabha seats.
“Mayawati ji is a very visionary and capable leader. She is a national leader and having all the qualities to lead the country. However, our principled position is that the decision of PM face will be taken after the election by consulting all leaders of the parties forming the mahagathbandhan [grand alliance] in UP. Certainly, 2019 would see a new PM and we would be happy to have this face of PM from UP,” SP spokesperson Abdul Hafiz Gandhi said.
“Mayawati ji’s statement could well be an attempt to tell her core voters that ‘all is well.’ As the campaign enters the last phase, it’s also a counter to the BJP’s attempts to drive suspicion among the alliance partners. So, what she is saying is that, one, the alliance is fine, and two, they are capable of confusing the BJP,” said Athar Siddiqui of the Centre for Objective Research and Development.
First Published: May 06, 2019 23:59 IST