Uttar Pradesh: SP, BSP start new chapter of bitterness
The Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), the two main regional political players in Uttar Pradesh (UP), are back to their old ways of playing bitter rivals, where tit-for-tat is the name of the political game.
The rivalry, which began due to the infamous guest house incident on June 2, 1995 and lasted for a good 24 years, had a momentary reprieve ahead of last year’s parliamentary elections.
Though both the SP and the BSP had fought last year’s parliamentary elections in an uncharacteristic alliance on the lines of 1993, the bonhomie came unstuck after the polls, as the political formation made little impact at the hustings.
The 1995 incident refers to a ruckus caused by SP lawmakers and supporters at a state-run guest house, where Mayawati, the then BSP chief Kanshi Ram’s closest aide and the then general secretary of the party, was meeting her legislators purportedly to pull the plug on the Mulayam Singh Yadav-led coalition government.
The SP lawmakers and workers had gone on a rampage, forcing Mayawati to lock herself in a room, while they detained several of her legislators, claiming they had defected to the SP.
The echoes of the unsavoury episode lingered on for years.
The latest chapter of SP-BSP discord traces its origin to the biennial Rajya Sabha elections for 10 seats from UP, when an independent candidate Prakash Bajaj filed his nomination papers at the last moment on Tuesday (October 27) with 10 SP lawmakers in tow.
His entry into the fray implied that there would be an electoral contest, as there were 11 candidates for 10 vacant RS seats.
The SP’s manoeuvre had cast a doubt over the prospects of BSP candidate Ramji Gautam, who was fielded by the party even though it is short of the requisite 37 votes to record an outright win.
The crisis worsened on Wednesday afternoon, when four BSP members of UP legislative assembly (MLAs), who had proposed Gautam’s candidature, petitioned the returning officer (RO) seeking withdrawal of their names.
Later, they met SP chief Akhilesh Yadav at his party headquarters in Lucknow along with three more BSP MLAs.
On Wednesday evening, the RO found Gautam’s nomination valid and rejected the nomination papers of Bajaj, who enjoyed the support of 10 SP lawmakers.
On Thursday morning, Mayawati suspended the seven rebel BSP MLAs and promised to pay the SP back in its own coin. She also raked up the guest house case.
“The BSP made a mistake by withdrawing the (guest house) case,” she said.
Mayawati owned up to another mistake such as the decision to contest last year’s parliamentary polls in alliance with the SP.
Earlier in 1993, the SP and the BSP had got into an alliance for UP assembly polls. Later, though they had formed the government, differences cropped up in no time.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had stepped in and offered to make Mayawati the chief minister. She was weighing in on the BJP’s offer, when the SP lawmakers and supporters had attacked the guest house on June 2, 1995.
The SP and the BSP had buried the guest house hatchet and contested last year’s parliamentary polls in alliance in UP, but Mayawati walked out soon after the election results were declared.
“It is behenji (Mayawati), who drew first blood. We were flabbergasted, when she broke the alliance on her own. Now, she has sided with the BJP and her MLAs and party leaders are upset. They are looking for an opportunity to join the SP. She herself is playing games. She has no business to blame us,” said a SP leader.
Rajendra Chaudhary, spokesperson of the SP’s UP unit, on Wednesday termed the charges levelled by Mayawati as “baseless allegations”.
He said, “The truth is that the BSP has sided with the BJP. The SP had sincerely followed the alliance dharma with the BSP till it decided to snap ties. We had successfully transferred all SP votes to the BSP candidates. The SP suffered at the BSP’s expense, as we managed to win only five seats in the Lok Sabha elections. The BSP needs to do a number crunching before it talks about teaching us a lesson. How many MLAs does it have? The BSP suspended seven MLAs on Thursday. How many MLAs does the party have now? Our party chief fulfils the promises he makes. He respected all opposition parties, when he was the CM. He believes in the democratic system.”
The RS polls will be held on November 9 and the results will be declared on the same day.