“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.
MAYAWATI IN PARLIAMENT COMPLEXON