Mayawati keeps Op­po­si­tion guess­ing ahead of key meet

The Sunday Guardian - - The Big Story - CON­TIN­UED FROM P1

up­hill task in Ut­tar Pradesh mi­nus the BSP. The BJP had bagged 71 out of 80 Lok Sabha seats in the state, while its al­liance part­ner Apna Dal had won two seats in the last elec­tions. BSP gen­eral sec­re­tary Satish Chan­dra Misra could not be con­tacted for his com­ments.

The meet­ing has been called at the be­hest of Tel­ugu De­sam Party chief and Andhra Pradesh Chief Min­is­ter Chan­drababu Naidu, who is spear­head­ing the unity move. He was part of the Na­tional Demo­cratic Al­liance but left it ear­lier this year.

Sources said BSP’s lack of com­mit­ment to an Op­po­si­tion unity may spoil the en- tire ef­fort as UP is very cru­cial, where only a Sa­ma­jwadi Party-BSP com­bine has the po­ten­tial to take on the BJP. “This is the only state where the Op­po­si­tion unity can truly make an im­pact. The re­sults of the by­elec­tions in Go­rakh­pur, Phulpur and Kairana are a case in point where BJP can­di­dates were de­feated to a joint Op­po­si­tion,” they ex­plained.

How­ever, that was ear­lier this year. Mayawati has not been very forth­com­ing dur­ing the just-con­cluded Assem­bly elec­tions. “She backed out from align­ing with the Congress in Mad­hya Pradesh, Ch­hat­tis­garh and Ra­jasthan, which came as a jolt to Rahul Gandhi’s party. In Ch­hat­tis­garh, her party, in fact, joined hands with the break­away Con- gress fac­tion led by Ajit Jogi. Mayawati’s re­fusal to come on board with Congress has raised doubts about her com­mit­ment to the idea of Op­po­si­tion unity. In Te­lan­gana too, BSP con­tested 70 seats on its own,” said a source.

Sources said that Mayawati had ex­pressed her dis­plea­sure to Naidu over the Congress’ at­ti­tude. “She is also con­cerned about Congress’ bon­homie with Bhim Army leader Chan­drashekhar Azad. She is wor­ried about the pos­si­bil­ity of Congress poach­ing on her Dalit vote bank,” they added. Mayawati and So­nia Gandhi had shared the dais dur­ing the oath-tak­ing cer­e­mony of H.D. Ku­maraswamy as Chief Min­is­ter of Kar­nataka in May.

Ac­cord­ing to a se­nior BJP leader, any Op­po­si­tion unity will not pose a threat to the party-led NDA. “The Op­po­si­tion bloc does not have any face, whereas we have a strong leader like Naren­dra Modi. More­over, these par­ties fought against us in 2014 too, but we won. They are now plan­ning to fight against us again. So there is no change in the sit­u­a­tion,” he as­serted.

“They are lead­ers in their re­spec­tive re­gions. If Ma­mata Baner­jee and Chan­drababu Naidu come to­gether on one plat­form, what dif­fer­ence does it make in Ben­gal or Andhra Pradesh?” he asked. He, how­ever, ad­mit­ted that if SP and BSP joined hands in UP, it would be a dif­fer­ent sit­u­a­tion.

The sources, how­ever, said that BSP’s re­fusal to be a part of the Op­po­si­tion bloc could not only af­fect the out­come in UP, but also in states like Mad­hya Pradesh, Ch­hat­tis­garh, Ra­jasthan, Pun­jab and Bi­har where she has con­sid­er­able sup­port among Dal­its. “She may not win seats in these states but will eat into the non-BJP votes,” sources said.

The meet­ing will be held in the na­tional cap­i­tal a day be­fore the an­nounce­ment of the re­sults of the Assem­bly elec­tions in five states and the com­mence­ment of the win­ter ses­sion of Par­lia­ment. It is likely to be at­tended by, be­sides Naidu, Congress pres­i­dent Rahul Gandhi, Tri­namool Congress chief Ma­mata Baner­jee, SP leader Ram Gopal Ya­dav, Na­tion­al­ist Congress Party leader Sharad Pawar, for­mer Union Min­is­ter Sharad Ya­dav and Na­tional Con­fer­ence leader Fa­rooq Ab­dul­lah.

Mon­day’s meet­ing will dis­cuss strate­gies on how to pro­ceed to­wards build­ing a “ma­ha­gath­band­han” or grand al­liance against the BJP. The sources said for­mer Congress pres­i­dent So­nia Gandhi may at­tend the meet­ing, which will also dis­cuss mat­ters re­lated to the win­ter ses­sion.

Other lead­ers who are likely to at­tend the meet­ing in­clude Kar­nataka Chief Min­is­ter H.D. Ku­maraswamy, DMK’s M.K. Stalin, RJD’s Te­jashwi Ya­dav and CPI(M) gen­eral sec­re­tary Si­taram Yechury. The meet­ing was first sched­uled for 22 Novem­ber, but had to be post­poned be­cause of the Assem­bly elec­tions.

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