In Mayawati’s home state discussion has gone beyond UPA’s trust vote (Lead)

July 22nd, 2008 - 6:37 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Bahujan Samaj Party

Lucknow, July 22 (IANS) In Uttar Pradesh, where politics runs through the veins of its 160 million population, the topic of discussion in the last few days has not been whether the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government sails through the crucial trust vote Tuesday but the emergence of Chief Minister Mayawati as a possible prime minister. Every nook and cranny of the state, which has sent eight prime ministers since independence, is abuzz with expressions of awe and surprise as the people stare at television screens watching Mayawati’s every move and expression.

In a state where opinions are made and broken as quickly as a politician’s party affiliations, the discussion has already gone beyond the UPA’s vote of confidence in parliament.

The talk is will she be prime minister or not, should she be or not. “Please give me a break, I don’t wish her to be my prime minister. Not her,” says Anupama Srivastava, who runs a share broking firm out of her home.

But there is another version too. “If Deve Gowda could become the PM, why can’t Behenji (as she is called in the Bahujan Samaj Party)? She is more capable,” says Omkar Sharma, who has a ‘paan’ (betel leaf) shop in Gomtinagar area.

“Earlier only her party workers boasted that she was poised to be prime minister, but now other major political players at the centre are saying it. So Mayawati is in a win-win situation irrespective of the fate of the UPA government,” says A.K. Verma, head of political science department at Kanpur’s Christ Church College.

The first question journalists across the state are asked by friends and politicians alike is: “What is Mayawati going to do now? Will she become the prime minister?”

The journalists have become veritable pundits, each professing a theory of what’s going to happen.

At the other end of the spectrum is Mulayam Singh Yadav, another ‘kingmaker’ from Uttar Pradesh, who will bask in glory if the UPA wins the trust vote today.

Yadav took the centrestage when he with his Samajwadi Party’s 39 members of parliament emerged as saviours for the UPA after the Left pulled out support to the government.

The scenario changed after CPI-M’s Prakash Karat drove to Mayawati’s residence in New Delhi and the constituents of the United National Progressive Alliance (UNPA) fell over each other to call her their prime ministerial candidate. All to see the government out.

“The government falls or not, Mayawati has stolen the centrestage from the Samajwadi Party. In the changed scenario, she will not get less than 40 to 50 Lok Sabha seats out of the state’s 80 seats, which will make her a strong contender for the top post,” says Ramesh Dixit, political analyst in Lucknow.

The anxiety in Uttar Pradesh is similar to May 2007 when Mayawati romped home in the state assembly elections with a complete majority, a feat achieved first time in 16 years by any party.

For a state that has seen 38 chief ministers and two sessions of President’s Rule since independence, a single party forming the government was no mean achievement.

It was already in 2007 that a high decibel slogan had emerged from the Bahujan Samaj Party - “Uttar Pradesh has been conquered, now the elephant (BSP’s party symbol) will march to Delhi.”

The mood among the rank and file of the Bahujan Samaj Party is upbeat. “We knew it when we won in 2007 that Behenji will be the PM, it’s only you people who are surprised now,” a jubilant BSP worker told IANS at the party office. He doesn’t wish to be named, for, “in our party, Behenji’s voice is final.”

“She is bound to take the opportunity to forge a national alliance, which puts her at the centrestage”, concludes Dixit, though he is not sure whether this would happen this time or some time later.

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