Mayawati may go Congress way, ask for central berths

May 15th, 2009 - 1:47 pm ICT by IANS  

Bahujan Samaj Party By Darshan Desai
New Delhi/Lucknow, May 15 (IANS) Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) supremo and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati might tilt towards the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) and seek ministerial berths for her close aides, reliable sources said.

Twenty-four hours ahead of the outcome of one of the most unpredictable elections in India, discussions are on among the close associates of the maverick leader about the party’s position in different scenarios.

“She is clear. If she is unable to become the prime minister, she would prefer to cling to her base Uttar Pradesh and would want a ministerial berth for Satish Mishra (her trusted lieutenant and party general secretary),” a BSP strategist told IANS.

“That is if we decide to join the government,” he added, pleading anonymity since no one except Mayawati is authorised to talk to the media in the party.

The BSP leader explained that Mayawati would prefer “not to support a BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party)-led government lest she antagonises Muslim voters”, who she believes are breaking away from the Samajwadi Party and inching towards the BSP.

“We would rather back the Congress,” he said.

And added: “Whether we join the government or not will depend on the numbers. If we don’t cross 25 to 30 seats, our strategy will be to lend external support to the government.”

The BSP leader said this is the broad thinking and “everything would depend on what emerges on May 16 (the day of counting)”.

At the moment, Mayawati is in touch with the Left parties leading the so-called Third Front and will finalise the strategy after seeing their performance.

Political analysts say that Mayawati will not be able to repeat her sterling performance of the 2007 elections when she stunned everyone by netting 203 of the 403 seats in the assembly to form a government in the country’s most populous state.

Ever since that victory, Mayawati had publicly declared her prime ministerial ambitions.

While BSP leaders have been saying that their party would get a record 50 out of the total 80 Lok Sabha in the state, few buy this. The party got 19 seats in the 2004 elections.

“She will not get more than 25 seats (the BSP won 19 seats in 2004), essentially because the circumstances in 2007 and now are quite different,” said Lucknow-based analyst Ramesh Dixit.

Sudha pai, a political scientist at New Delhi’ Jawaharlal Nehru University, concured.

“She might at the most go up to 30,” said the expert on Uttar Pradesh politics.

“The Brahmin-Dalit combination of 2007 will not work because reports indicate that the Congress and the BJP both are doing well and the high caste votes may have gone to the BJP.

“Secondly, there was anti-incumbency against the Samajwadi Party government then because of the poor law and order situation; now there is anti-incumbency against her,” Pai explained.

Mayawati’s biographer Ajoy Bose told IANS that even if she got 30 seats, “she will be a significant player in government formation”.

He said the scenario was “quite confusing but one should not discount the fact that many contests in Uttar Pradesh this time became three to multi-cornered”.

“The contests got very close. So, it should not be a surprise if Mayawati gets even 40 seats,” he argued.

Bose agreed that if Mayawati was unable to become the prime minister, she would not seek any berth for herself in the centre.

“It is important for her to secure her base rather than taking a ministry. She is either the prime minister of India or the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh.”

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