BSP chief said her party’s ties with Akhilesh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party won’t be hurt by the Rajya Sabha poll result.
New Delhi: BSP supremo Mayawati’s unambiguous statement Saturday that the party’s defeat in the Rajya Sabha polls won’t affect SP-BSP ties is a first clear indication that she is not averse to the idea of a grand opposition alliance ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
In the past, Mayawati had said a number of times that secular parties should come together but always remained non-committal about an opposition alliance. In August last year, despite attempts by RJD leader Lalu Yadav, Mayawati had refused to join a grand opposition rally in Patna.
Mayawati’s statement Saturday, therefore, comes as a morale booster not only for the SP but also for other opposition parties such as the Congress, Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress as well as RJD.
“After the defeat in Gorakhpur and Phulpur, the SP-BSP alliance is giving sleepless nights to the BJP. But since yesterday they have been distributing sweets,” she said.
“But let me tell you, yesterday’s loss has not affected the relations between the SP and the BSP and the alliance shall continue in future,” the BSP chief added.
BJP candidate Anil Agarwal Friday won the tenth Rajya Sabha seat from the state, defeating BSP’s Bhimrao Ambedkar in second preference votes.
The BSP’s defeat was seen as a setback for its possible alliance with SP given the fact that after the latter’s win in Gorakhpur and Phulpur bypolls, BSP saw it as Akhilesh Yadav’s turn to ensure its victory in the Rajya Sabha election.
Mayawati said that had she been in Akhilesh’s position, she would have given preference to the BSP’s Rajya Sabha candidate over her own party candidate.
However, she was quick to defend the SP chief saying, he is new in politics and would learn the tricks over time.
A morale booster
Prior to Mayawati’s statement Saturday, Akhilesh had several closed-door meetings with senior SP leaders to decide the next course of action. Her statement that the Rajya Sabha poll result would not affect the SP-BSP ties is seen to be a shot in the arm of SP leaders.
Even BSP leader Satish Chandra Mishra had acknowledged that SP MLAs had voted for his party candidate: “SP MLAs did vote for us and we thank them for their support. It was the power play by the BJP that made us lose the election.”
“Two MLAs who were in jail, were not allowed to vote, this has happened for the first time,” Mishra said.
Mayawati recognises Akhilesh’s efforts
Mayawati not only acknowledged Akhilesh’s efforts to back BSP’s Rajya Sabha candidate, but also tried to play down the infamous guesthouse episode of 1995, involving some workers of Samajwadi Party. On 2 June 1995, Mayawati was gheraoed by SP workers at the state guest house in Lucknow and she had locked herself in a room for hours to escape a possible mob attack.
Mulayam Singh Yadav was the chief minister when the incident took place and since then Mayawati had been against Mulayam and Samajwadi Party.
“It would be unfair to blame Akhilesh Yadav for the guesthouse incident in 1995. He was not in politics at that time,” she said.
Instead, she slammed the BJP saying that the Yogi Adityanath government has made then SSP of Lucknow, O.P. Singh, during whose tenure the incident took place in 1995, DGP of the state.
“The way Mayawati ji has bestowed her trust on the leadership of Akhilesh Yadav, we thank her from the core of heart,” said SP spokesperson and MLC Sunil Yadav Sajan.
A shot in the arm for Congress
The Congress party in Uttar Pradesh, which seemed to have felt left out after the Phulpur and Gorakhpur by-election results, is also likely to get a shot in the arm after Mayawati’s statement.
“We have always shared good relations with the Congress and have supported them at the Centre as well as other states whenever needed. This will continue further,” said Mayawati.
Senior Congress leaders such as Raj Babbar, Pramod Tiwari and Sanjay Singh had been camping in Lucknow to ensure all seven Congress MLAs vote for the BSP.
West Bengal chief minister and Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee welcomed Mayawati’s statement, saying TMC strongly backs the SP-BSP alliance. She tweeted, “I welcome the views expressed by Mayawati Ji today. We are strongly with her and @yadavakhilesh in this mission for the nation.”
I welcome the views expressed by Mayawati Ji today. We are strongly with her and @yadavakhilesh in this mission for the nation
— Mamata Banerjee (@MamataOfficial) March 24, 2018
RJD’s newly elected Rajya Sabha MP Manoj Jha also tweeted, saying Mayawati has “spoken her mind” for opposition unity.
Let’s recall May 2014…@laluprasadrjd ji had given a call for unity in order to fight the menace of Right-Wing Authoritarian regime…and the churning started…today BSP Chief #Mayawati ji has spoken her mind 4 Unity. Sleepless nights 4 @BJP4India ??
— Manoj K Jha (@manojkjhadu) March 24, 2018