Mayawati Starts Tar­get Prac­tice

For­mer Ut­tar Pradesh chief min­is­ter fo­cuses on the next Lok Sabha polls and eyes a pan- In­dia role

India Today - - INSIDE - By Priya Sah­gal

For­mer Ut­tar Pradesh chief min­is­ter fo­cuses on the next Lok Sabha polls and eyes a pan- In­dia role.

Four se­cu­rity tow­ers with armed guards, barbed wire and 18- fthigh sand­stone walls sur­round Mayawati’s home at 13 A Mall Av­enue in Lucknow. The Akhilesh Ya­dav gov­ern­ment may have taken down the bar­ri­cades on Mall Av­enue that Mayawati had in place when she was chief min­is­ter, but she still knows how to keep out the un­de­sir­ables. The Bahu­jan Samaj Party ( BSP) of­fice across the road seems equally de­serted ex­cept for a hand­ful of party of­fi­cials. The only sound is the low hum of a TV whose vol­ume is turned up when­ever there is news con­cern­ing BSP. This is in sharp con­trast to the Sa­ma­jwadi Party ( SP) of­fice at Vikra­ma­ditya Marg which is buzzing with party work­ers and the me­dia, de­spite the newly in­stalled se­cu­rity ap­pa­ra­tus at the gate.

But in­side 13 A Mall Av­enue, there is a nu­anced low­er­ing of the bar­ri­ers. Over the last month, the 43 in­ter­coms in­side the house have been work­ing over­time as Mayawati has been meet­ing a spate of vis­i­tors. All ex­cept three— her younger brother Anand Kumar, his wife Vi­chi­tra Lata and their daugh­ter— be­long to the BSP cadre.

Those who have met Mayawati say the ini­tial shock of de­feat has long worn off. She has a new tar­get in place: Lok Sabha 2014. “Don’t for­get that un­like the SP lead­er­ship, Mayawati is a na­tional leader,” points out Swami Prasad Mau­rya, Ut­tar Pradesh leader of Op­po­si­tion and BSP state pres­i­dent. This is one rea­son why she gave up her MLC nom­i­na­tion and has moved to Delhi as a Ra­jya Sabha mem­ber.

When she ar­rived at the Up­per House on April 24, she was es­corted by aide Satish Mishra while the rest of her party MPS greeted her with bou­quets of roses. A smil­ing Mayawati, dressed in a cream sal­war kameez, wasted lit­tle time in Par­lia­ment. Once she had taken oath, she stepped out and walked pur­pose­fully to­wards the first car wait­ing at the gate. The car, be­long­ing to ju­nior for­eign min­is­ter E. Ahamed, had a red bea­con; Mayawati’s Am­bas­sador has none. Re­al­is­ing her mis­take, Mayawati sheep­ishly asked Mishra where her car was and walked to­wards it.

The BSP chief later told the me­dia that her mis­sion in Par­lia­ment would be “sar­va­jan hi­tay, sar­va­jan sukhay ( the gain of all, the wel­fare of all)”. She was also crit­i­cal of the Congress move to nom­i­nate Sachin Ten­dulkar to the Ra­jya Sabha. “I know very well their in­ten­tions be­hind this move,” she said enig­mat­i­cally. But when it came to ac­tor Rekha, a bete noire of Jaya Bachchan— one of Mayawati’s own de­trac­tors, she sim­ply stated, “I don’t watch films. All my time is spent in strength­en­ing my party.”

Clearly this was no de­feated leader but a spir­ited woman al­ready work­ing on her next chal­lenge. With the two na­tional par­ties in a sham­bles and the next Lok Sabha likely to be a hung House, Mayawati is ready to step it up.

MAYAWATI’S MAIDEN IN­TER­VEN­TION IN PARLIAMENTWAS TO DE­MAND PRO­MO­TION QUOTA FOR SC/ ST EM­PLOY­EES IN HER STATE.

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