India Today - - NA­TION -

“Mayawati is hop­ing by then an­ti­in­cum­bency will set in against SP in Ut­tar Pradesh. She is also fo­cus­ing on re­viv­ing the party in the rest of In­dia,” says a BSP leader. At a rally dur­ing the Ut­tar Pradesh polls, Mayawati had some­what am­bi­tiously stated, “I hold the mas­ter key to power.” She is now work­ing hard to en­sure that this comes true, not just for Ut­tar Pradesh but also the rest of In­dia.

With an av­er­age 10 per cent vote share across the coun­try, BSP is the third largest na­tional party. Mayawati had, in fact, kicked off her 2009 Lok Sabha cam­paign from Ker­ala, even though the party is yet to make a dent in the south. Apart from its 80 MLAS in Ut­tar Pradesh, the party cur­rently has seven MLAS in Mad­hya Pradesh, six in Ra­jasthan, three each in Ut­tarak­hand and Delhi, two in Ch­hat­tis­garh, and an MLA each in Haryana and Hi­machal Pradesh.

The three BSP MLAS played a cru­cial role in gov­ern­ment for­ma­tion in Ut­tarak­hand re­cently, with both the Congress and BJP woo­ing her. One of her MLAS is now a min­is­ter in the Congress- led state gov­ern­ment. Cit­ing this as an ex­am­ple, Mayawati has told party work­ers to en­sure that BSP plays a sim­i­lar role in the next As­sem­bly elec­tions due in Hi­machal Pradesh, Mad­hya Pradesh, Delhi, Ra­jasthan and Ch­hat­tis­garh.

Party cadres in Ut­tar Pradesh have also been told to es­ca­late the at­tack against SP, with Mayawati lead­ing from the front, as usual. On Ambed­kar Jayanti, April 14, she chose to make her first ap­pear­ance in Ut­tar Pradesh since her de­feat in the As­sem­bly elec­tions. Af­ter of­fer­ing flow­ers at an Ambed­kar statue, she is­sued a dire warn­ing to the Akhilesh Yadav gov­ern­ment in re­ac­tion to com­ments that the state gov­ern­ment was plan­ning to build hos­pi­tals in her Ambed­kar parks. “Any at­tempt to al­ter Dalit me­mo­ri­als or con­struct any­thing else on the at­tached land would lead to a law and or­der cri­sis not only in Ut­tar Pradesh but also na­tion­ally,” she thun­dered.

A BSP Lok Sabha leader says erect­ing stat­ues of Ambed­kar, Kan­shi Ram and her­self was a shrewd move on her part. “They have an emo­tional value for Dal­its all across In­dia,” he said, point­ing to an ed­i­to­rial in a daily by Ambed­kar’s grand­son Prakash Ambed­kar. Usu­ally crit­i­cal of Mayawati, Prakash had echoed her threat of a law and or­der break­down if any of the stat­ues were touched.

The stat­ues have con­sol­i­dated the Dal­its and Mayawati’s stature as their tallest leader, tow­er­ing over other Dalit lead­ers such as Ram Vi­las Paswan in Bi­har and Ram­das Athavale in Ma­ha­rash­tra. She is cer­tainly no has- been re­gional leader. Be­fore the elec­tion re­sults, her gov­ern­ment- al­lot­ted Mall Av­enue home in Lucknow had ‘ Chief Min­is­ter’ writ­ten in brass let­ters on the gatepost. She has sim­ply scrawled the word ‘ Poorv ( for­mer)’ ahead of it in chalk. So sure is she of a come­back dur­ing the next As­sem­bly elec­tions.

YASH­BANT NEGI/ www. in­di­a­to­day­im­ages. com



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