Uttar Pradesh: The more people talk about, the more the idea seems to make sense. Ever since Samajwadi Party’s Akhilesh Yadav claimed on Thursday that the next Indian Prime Minster will be from Uttar Pradesh, all eyes have been focussed on Mayawati.
She has time and again proved her political tact in the state and is the head of the third largest national party in India after BJP and Congress. With Congress to finalize seat sharing with BSP in a few days, the alliance could mean a tangible threat to Modi’s BJP.
What could also throw a spanner in the BJP juggernaut or the Modi ‘wave’ is if Akhilesh Yadav joins the alliance as well.
The BJP has many tricks up its sleeve to discredit and delegitimize Congress and Rahul Gandhi. With its violent Hindutva motives and implicit support of extreme right-wing violence, it would go against its ethos to pander to a minority vote to stay in power. It cannot cook up diatribe against Mayawati as she could very well be the first Dalit Prime Minister of India and the second woman PM of independent India, both of which hold immense potential promise.
BSP leader Jai P Singh had slammed the BJP on Tuesday for playing caste politics and said, “If India is afraid of Modi, then Modi is afraid of Mayawati.”
BSP is already eyeing regional alliances before 2019 by training its vision on the upcoming assembly polls in Rajasthan, MP and Chattisgarh.
“Mayawati has a pact with Janata Dal (Secular) in Karnataka and the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) in Haryana, and she recently discussed a tie-up with former chief minister Ajit Jogi’s Chhattisgarh Janta Congress in the tribal-dominated state. “She is also keen to partner with Jagan Mohan Reddy of the YSR Congress in Andhra Pradesh,” a BSP leader, one of the two people cited above, said on condition of anonymity. The BSP fielded candidates in 503 Lok Sabha seats in 2014, polled 23 million votes with a share of 4.2%, but could not win a single seat. It polled 19.8% votes in UP, 4.8% in Uttarakhand, 4.6% in Haryana, 3.9% in Madhya Pradesh, 2.6% in Maharashtra, 2.4% each in Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh, 1.9% in Punjab, and 1.2% in Delhi,” reported Hindustan Times.
The ambition could be running on imagined steam as the BSP doesn’t have a seat in the lower house of the parliament currently.
But if any past state elections are to go by, regional parties are realizing the need to make alliances and keep the hate politics of BJP at bay.
“Election after election have proved that Congress is getting irrelevant,” said, Amit Jogi, the legislator-son of Ajit Jogi. “Karnataka and UP have shown us that only regional parties can take on the BJP. We need to move in that direction,” reported HT.
“As momentum for 2019 polls gains pace, Mayawati has very tactfully started to establish her ambition for the prime ministerial post. It’s the reason why she is seriously pursuing the idea of alliances both in her home state of Uttar Pradesh as well as beyond. She not just wants to expand the foot print of her party across states and be a respectable force inside the Lok Sabha, she also hopes to have a rapport with both congress and other non-NDA regional players,” reported News18.
She is one of the most recognized Dalit faces in politics. Her ‘Dalit ki beti’ image and experience as an administrator has the power to propel her to the post. “The Dalit leader’s emergence out of political hibernation to become a reckoning force in 2019 was signaled by the rapport she displayed with Sonia Gandhi on stage with the rest of the opposition bigwigs in Bengaluru,” reported News18.
“Modi won in 2014 because of Uttar Pradesh. As a leader who has served as chief minister of UP more than once, and is a regional power in the largest State, Mayawati as president of Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) needs to contest around 45-50 seats out of 80 and win between 30-35 seats from there to make her a choice. This can happen if the non-BJP opposition wishes to preserve the secular ethos of the country, and rise above their individual ambitions to protect our society. Akhilesh Yadav is crucial for this to happen, though to defeat the BJP, a Congress-SP-BSP alliance would be amazing,” said Dalit activist and author Kancha Ilaiah in an interview.
“Given that Mr Yadav is young, the trade-off can be that BSP will contest maximum Lok Sabha seats and SP will get a lion’s share of the Assembly seats in the alliance. A simultaneous poll in UP for both Lok Sabha and Assembly would make such an arrangement very realistic given the trust factor,” he said.
“However, the most crucial aspect is not just Uttar Pradesh, but non-BJP parties must singularly project her as the prime minister and make the 2019 elections a fight between Hindutva versus Ambedkarism,” he added.
“Mayawati will insist that Congress be part of the government, so as to avoid an Indira Gandhi-Charan Singh or a Rajiv Gandhi-Chandrasekhar like situation. Given the threat of the BJP, the Congress cannot hope to destabilise a government it has created in the short run. The policies, economic, defence or foreign, will evolve. She had a mixed tenure as a chief minister, is shrewd and can run a coalition and respond to various situations. Most significantly, the mandate will bring a responsibility that will ensure she can deliver,” he said.
Dalit youth icon and independent MLA from Gujarat Jignesh Mevani is also keen on joining forces with Mayawati and thinks that only an alliance of regional parties will be able to defeat BJP. “Which political party, that is opposing the BJP, has come up with an idea of assuring jobs for the youth? The greed for personal power is the biggest obstacle in the grand alliance. Let there be differences among the parties, but we need to sink them to collectively face the threat from the BJP. I need Ms Mayawati’s help in building a nationwide dalit movement and fighting the fascist forces in the country in the face of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. I am willing to support her joint election campaign for the Parliament elections with the Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh on the condition that she is ready to take up cudgels against the BJP,” he said in an interview.
Are the masses willing to place trust in this hybrid UPA 2.0 version for their near future? The elections of 2019 are only a blink away.