Mayawati returns to Lucknow with renewed hope (News Analysis)

July 24th, 2008 - 12:08 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Bahujan Samaj Party

Lucknow, July 24 (IANS) The loss in the parliament trust vote may have dashed Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati’s immediate dream of power in New Delhi, but she is returning to Lucknow with a larger national profile, including new allies who are more than ready to accept her as prime ministerial candidate. The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) she leads had been boasting for over a year that she is capable of ruling the world’s largest democracy. Now other parties, including many that are older to the BSP, are echoing her supporters.

In the run up to the United Progressive Alliance’s (UPA) trust vote Tuesday, opposition parties fell over each other to woo her, thanks to her growing stature as a winner. The Communists didn’t think twice about calling her a future prime minister while the regional United National Progressive Alliance (UNPA) dutifully followed suit.

“In Uttar Pradesh her political graph remains on the same high as it was when she romped home in assembly elections with a clear majority (in May 2007),” said Ramesh Dixit, who teaches political science at the Lucknow University.

For Mayawati, the road to Delhi will have to pass through Lucknow. And it may not be such a bumpy ride.

There is broad agreement that Mayawati would improve her Lok Sabha tally in Uttar Pradesh from the present 17 to over 40 seats of the total 80 seats in the state.

The BSP calculates it will not get less than 55-60 seats. “With that many seats, she will be a strong contender at the national scene after the 2009 Lok Sabha polls,” Dixit told IANS.

In her opposition to the nuclear deal, argued social anthropologist Nadeem Hasnain, Mayawati has made a dent in the already dwindling Muslim vote of the Samajwadi Party.

“If not so much in rural areas, a large chunk of the minorities in urban areas are likely to go with her given that there is a general anger among the Muslims against the US,” Hasnain, a Fulbright scholar and avid writer on Muslims in South Asia, said.

Already, the Muslim vote has been slipping from the Samajwadi Party since the assembly elections of May 2007 that catapulted the Dalit leader to power in India’s most populous state.

“With 28 Muslims, Mayawati today has the largest number of legislators from the minority community in her party,” pointed out A.K. Verma, head of the political science department in Kanpur’s Christ Church College.

Mayawati has also found a new ally in Ajit Singh’s Rashtriya Lok Dal, which is a force to reckon with in western Uttar Pradesh where the Jat community, to which Ajit Singh belongs, has been a traditional enemy of the BSP.

The Jats are a high-caste farmer community who saw a threat in BSP’s emergence because it espoused the cause of Jatavs, the most vocal group in the Dalit community.

But Mayawati does need to worry. This relates to the corruption case relating to her alleged disproportionate assets being probed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

The CBI has completed its inquiries and has sought the Supreme Court’s permission to file a charge against her formally. The apex court will hear this case July 28.

Political circles believe that with the Congress-led UPA winning the Tuesday trust vote, the central government may nudge the CBI to proceed against her.

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