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Mayawati Hits Mute Button Ahead of Karnataka Elections, Pawar and Owaisi Also Go Silent

The MIM was initially planning to field the candidates in about 50 seats in north Karnataka region. According to JDS sources, Owaisi had even approached Deve Gowda for seat sharing arrangements, which was turned down by the former Prime Minister.

D P Satish | News18dp_satish

Updated:April 12, 2018, 8:20 AM IST
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Mayawati Hits Mute Button Ahead of Karnataka Elections, Pawar and Owaisi Also Go Silent
File photo of BSP chief Mayawati.
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Bengaluru: In a surprise move, BSP supremo Mayawati had joined hands with former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda’s JDS for Assembly polls two months ago. Together they addressed a huge public meeting in Bengaluru and Gowda offered her 21 seats out of 224 seats in the state. Mayawati had thundered that she would be defeating the Congress and the BJP in Karnataka.

BSP chief’s ‘elephant’ and Gowda’s ‘woman with hay stock’ walking together was acknowledged by the main opposition, BJP.

In fact, saffron party’s chief ministerial face, B S Yeddyurappa, admitted in private that BSP was capable of eating into anti-BJP Dalits votes, which otherwise would have gone to the Congress. The state Congress leaders had also expressed fears that Mayawati would end up helping the BJP.

Karnataka Congress in-charge K C Venugopal had also openly attacked Mayawati by calling her a “B” team of the BJP in Karnataka. However, after two months, there is no sign of Mayawati – the leader who had promised to address at least half a dozen rallies across Karnataka.

The JDS, which had created a hype over the alliance with the BSP, has also stopped talking about it. And most BSP candidates have not even started campaigning.

According to political observers, Mayawati seems to have changed her mind after the triumph in Gorakhpur and Phulpur Lok Sabha bypolls last month. The SP with BSP support convincingly defeated the ruling BJP candidates in both seats, giving hope to ‘Cycle’ and ‘Elephant’.

“UP by-election win has given hopes to SP and BSP. Mayawati has realised that they can defeat the BJP and her main enemy is BJP, not Congress. She is no more interested in aiding the JDS to eat into non-BJP Dalit votes. She seems to be fine with the Congress win in Karnataka. That’s why Mayawati has gone silent,” said Professor C Narasimhappa, a close confidante of late Chaudhury Charan Singh and a former national vice president of the JDU.

When contacted, Karnataka state BSP leaders declined to comment on record. One of the leaders told News18 that the alliance with the JDS had no backing of the local unit and it was done in Lucknow. He said, “We are not permitted to express our views. We really don’t know what is happening. Madam was supposed to tour Karnataka. We are yet to hear from her. We don’t know if the alliance with JDS stays or collapses.”

Another leader said that if she indeed had taken the decision to remain neutral in Karnataka, it would be a wise decision on her part.

It is not just Mayawati who has pressed the mute button. The MIM chief and Hyderabad MP Asaduddin Owaisi and NCP chief Sharad Pawar, who were also in talks with Deve Gowda, are also maintaining a strange silence over seat sharing or contesting in the polls.

The MIM was initially planning to field the candidates in about 50 seats in north Karnataka region. According to JDS sources, Owaisi had even approached Deve Gowda for seat sharing arrangements, which was turned down by the former Prime Minister.

The JDS had offered seven Assembly seats to the NCP in Belgaum and Bijapura districts bordering Maharashtra in last February. The alliance collapsed two weeks ago after Deve Gowda accused Pawar of hobnobbing with anti-Karnataka Maharashtra Ekikaran Samiti (MES) MLAs and leaders in Belgaum. Sources say that the NCP may not contest at all because Pawar does not want to be seen as someone aiding the BJP in Karnataka.

The JDS maintains that alliance with Mayawati is still intact. Speaking to News18, Deve Gowda said that there was no change in the original plan, but he refused to elaborate further.

The BJP, which was hoping to be benefitted from a non-Congress, non-BJP alliance of regional parties led by the JDS, is reworking its poll strategies. On the other hand, Congress is heaving a sigh of relief, hoping that there will be no splitting of votes by these players.
| Edited by: Sumedha Kirti
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