Will Mayawati's Elephant Get Her to 7 RCR?
 

by Hemant Abhishek

 

General elections are an exercise of mammoth proportions. But if the entire exercise of campaigning, posturing, tie-ups and breaking-up only yields a fractured mandate, then the two largest parties have no other option than to rely on the regional satraps to bail them out.

 

And in such a scenario BSP's Kumari Mayawati will be among the regional leaders who will have her eyes set not just on savouring power but also on the cherry on top, the Prime Minister's chair.

The former chief minister of Uttar Pradesh and Bahujan Samaj Party supremo has not shown any signs of warming up to neither the Congress nor the Bharatiya Janata Party in the 2014 polls. She seems more keen on flexing her own muscles in Uttar Pradesh and testing the waters for herself. She is going alone and once again pinning her hopes on the two ends of the spectrum in UP– the Dalit (21%) and the Brahmin (11% ) vote-banks.

But with the memories of recent Muzaffarnagar riots still fresh she will also look to make a dent into the Muslim (15%) votebank as well. This demographic has historically opposed the saffron brigade and despite favouring Samajwadi Party in the past has now become disillusioned of Mulayam Singh Yadav's failure to prevent riots.

Tearing into the aforementioned flanks for ‘orchestrating' the riots to polarize votes, Mayawati in a recent poll rally said, “They (Mulayam and Modi) are hatching a conspiracy together. Yeh to chor-chor mauseri bhai hain (they are brothers).”

Hoping to win over the Muslim voters this time around, she said, “Mulayam talks about 2002 Gujarat riots but doesn't mention massacre of Muslims in Muzaffarnagar and Shamli. He thinks people will forgive and forget.”

After rekindling the ghost of 2002 and highlighting it alongside 2014, she hopes that the ensuing fear psychosis will do the rest of the job for her. “Muslims have neither forgotten Gujarat in 2002 nor have they forgiven Mulayam Singh Yadav for what happened in Muzaffarnagar just some months ago,” said Mayawati. She would hope that for her sake they don't.

With her eyes trained on a bigger vote share, Mayawati will aim to improve on the 21 seats her party currently holds in the Lower House. This in turn will strengthen her position to demand important portfolios in case she sides with either the NDA or the UPA. Or better still, in case the Modi wave rescinds at around the 200 seat mark, then she would looks to cobble together a Third Front of regional parties and, if possible, lead it as well. Players like her know that the Congress is likely to support any effort to keep the BJP out of power. And this could work in her favour.

‘Behenji' couldn't have made her dream of becoming the PM more obvious. At a rally in Maharashtra, she said, "You must ensure a big victory for BSP in the next general elections so that I can deliver the Independence Day speech as Prime Minister from the Red Fort." Her party has fielded candidates on a number of Dalit-dominated seats in states like Maharashtra and she never fails to bring up Congress' lack of will for passing the reservations in the job promotions Bill in the Lok Sabha.

Mayawati had early demanded division of Uttar Pradesh into four parts —namely Harit Pradesh (Western UP), Poorvanchal (Eastern UP), Bundelkhand and Awadh Pradesh (Central UP) —for better administration and governance. After the announcement of Telangana, she resurrected her demand for Purvanchal and wrote to the PM for the second time on this matter. Some say this was her ploy to gain firm footing in the eastern regions of Uttar Pradesh and to curb the growing influence of BJP's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi in this region.

So, it appears like Mayawati has thrown her hat in the PM's ring, and tried to ride on three boats – Dalits, Brahmins and Muslims. The answer lies in the question- will the Uttar Pradesh voter decided to jolt Samajwadi Party out of its two-year-old victory and vote not for ‘netaji' but for ‘behenji'?
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