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Congress Wants Mayawati to Share Onus of Forming Alliance Against PM Modi in 2019

For the time being, the Congress has openly put the blame for the failure to build a Bihar like mahagathbandhan for UP Assembly polls squarely on the BSP chief.

Sumit Pande | News18.com

Updated:March 28, 2018, 8:04 PM IST
Congress Wants Mayawati to Share Onus of Forming Alliance Against PM Modi in 2019
File photo of BSP chief Mayawati.

New Delhi: A slight yet perceptible inflection in the handling of its delicate relationship with Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati is indicative of the Congress’ growing restlessness in cobbling together a credible opposition alliance against Prime Minister Narendra Modi ahead of the 2019 General Elections.

For the time being, the Congress has openly put the blame for the failure to build a Bihar like mahagathbandhan for UP Assembly polls squarely on the BSP chief.

Speaking to reporters, while inducting former Mayawati close aide Naseemuddin Siddique on Thursday, Ghulam Nabi Azad did not mince words on pointing fingers at Mayawati for the inability to form a credible opposition to stall BJP’s march in UP.

“Ahead of Assembly elections, we had told Mayawati Ji, and I had personally gone to meet her to say that all three of us (SP, BSP, and Congress) should join hands to defeat the BJP. But she did not agree,” said Azad who is also general secretary in-charge of UP.

The BSP is the crucial cog in the wheel for the opposition to build a credible nationwide alternative alliance against the NDA. But Behenji despite protracted back-channel talks has responded with a loud silence on any such overtures.

In the recently concluded Budget session of Parliament, BSP MPs did not join opposition ranks in marching to the President House seeking independent probe in the Justice Loya case. Its leaders were missing when the opposition, in a rare show of unity, walked out of the Rajya Sabha alleging they were not being allowed to raise issues of public importance in the House.

But the tipping point perhaps has been BSP’s decision to align with Deve Gowda in Karnataka where the Congress is engaged in a pitched battle with the BJP. Politically also, the BSP’s decision to play minor partner to the JD(S) in the southern state—if anything—is being seen as an attempt to undercut Congress’ Dalit vote base. A strong JD(S) tends to indirectly help the BJP.

This is the first time the BSP has struck a pre-poll alliance after Kanshi Ram and Narasimha Rao joined hands for UP state Assembly polls two decades.

The Congress’ altered tactical line on the BSP is indicative of fact that the grand old party may push the BSP in the days ahead to take a clear and a categorical line for the 2019 General Elections—whether the BSP stands with the larger opposition unity or not. The attempt would be to put the onus of floundering efforts at mahagathbandhan on the BSP. In doing that, Congress in the process is also affixing a political cost to BSP’s reluctance to join hands by sending a subtle message to the minorities.

BSP has thus far indicated that efforts to forge a grand alliance have not borne fruits since the Congress has been insisting on a UP-centric agreement which fails to accommodate the BSP’s political interest outside of the state.

Mayawati, time and again, has displayed remarkable independence in choosing her own political path. In 1999, she reversed her decision on the floor of the House to script the fall of 13-month-old Vajpayee government by just one vote.

In 2018, though considerably weakened, the BSP remains a key player in the opposition ranks. Behenji for that reason is keeping her cards close to the chest. And she might take that final call on alliances much closer to the elections.

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| Edited by: Mayur Borah
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