MUMBAI: Mayawati on Thursday expressed her willingness to support the BJP in the Bihar election 2020.
“I want to say today that in the next MLC election, our party will ensure the victory of the BJP candidate and will do anything to defeat the second candidate of Samajwadi-Akhilesh, whose conspiracy has been defeated,” Mayawati said in Lucknow, referring to Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav.
The Samajwadi Party had partnered Mayawati in last year’s general election.
Mayawati’s “tit for tat” announcement came the day after a rebellion by six MLAs of her party who refused to support the BSP’s official candidate for the Rajya Sabha elections of November 9, and met Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav.
For some hours on Wednesday, it had seemed as though a contest might take place for one of the 10 seats from Uttar Pradesh, and that the BSP rebels would join hands with the SP to try to elect an independent candidate who had thrown his hat in the ring on Tuesday.
As it happened though, the SP-backed Independent’s nomination was rejected on technical grounds during scrutiny, clearing the way for the BSP candidate, even though the party’s 18 MLAs were not enough to elect him on their own steam.
For the first time, the BSP – whose chief Mayawati on Thursday made waves by saying she would rather vote for the BJP than for friend-turned-foe Akhilesh Yadav in Uttar Pradesh is contesting all seats in the byelection.
The SP too has put up candidates for 14 of the 28 seats that will vote on November 3.
In Datia’s Bhander seat, Mahendra Singh Bodh, earlier with the Congress, has now crossed over to the BSP.
A veteran of the Congress who started politics as a foot soldier for Sanjay Gandhi, Mahendra Bodh said the Congress is destroying its own roots by not keeping its voter base of scheduled castes happy.
Mahendra Bodh said he was denied a ticket six times before crossing over to the BSP for this election.
He will take on Phool Singh Baraiya who was earlier with the BSP and is now in the Congress.
Priyanka Gandhi, the Congress general secretary in charge of Uttar Pradesh, offered a terse remark on Mayawati’s announcement: “Iske baad kuchh baki hai (Any doubt left after this)?”
Priyanka had earlier described the BSP leader as an “undeclared spokesperson for the BJP”.
Mayawati had softened towards the BJP since the Bihar election 2020, offering token criticism over the Hathras atrocity and tacit support on the citizenship amendment and the abrogation of the special provision in Article 370 last year.
At the same time, the BSP leader had bitterly attacked the Congress and accused Priyanka of “dramabazi” in Uttar Pradesh. Priyanka too burnt her bridges with Mayawati, unlike Sonia Gandhi who had adopted a conciliatory attitude towards the Dalit leader.
That the Congress has decided not to have any association with the BSP became clear when Uttar Pradesh unit chief Ajay Lallu followed up Priyanka’s sarcasm with an acerbic jibe. “Hathi ab sarkari ho gaya/ Dalit-vanchit samaj ka daman kar rahi sarkar ka saathi ho gaya (The elephant — the BSP’s symbol — has now turned sarkari, becoming friendly with the forces that oppress the downtrodden),” Lallu tweeted.
Many senior Congress leaders pounced on Mayawati, underlining how she had been dancing to the BJP’s tune for the past several months.
Although Mayawati linked her readiness to support the BJP to her desire to defeat the Samajwadis in the legislative council elections, arguing they had betrayed and insulted her party, the Congress portrayed the remark as an alliance with the BJP.
Defending Priyanka’s combative posturing, party general secretary Tariq Anwar told The Telegraph: “We have accommodated Mayawati for far too long despite her deep ties with the BJP and a clear understanding that her ideology and principles mean nothing in her lust for power.”
Mayawati’s untimely declaration of willingness to support the BJP in Bihar election 2020 may further dent the chances of her front, and Owaisi and Kushwaha will find it difficult to explain her decision.