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2-min read

Decoding Mayawati’s Dichotomy on Congress Reveals PM Ambitions and Concern for Dalit Votes

In run-up to 2019 polls, Mayawati has now decided to reinvent her ‘anti-Congressism’ and has attacked the party at every opportunity.

Pranshu Mishra | CNN-News18

Updated:January 16, 2019, 8:41 AM IST
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Decoding Mayawati’s Dichotomy on Congress Reveals PM Ambitions and Concern for Dalit Votes
(From left) File photo of Mayawati, Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi.
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Lucknow: On January 12, as Mayawati and Akhilesh Yadav addressed the much awaited joint press conference to announce their electoral alliance, the BSP supremo’s full-throttle attack on the Congress left many surprised.

It immediately gave rise to questions over why an alliance that was formed with the primary agenda of 'BJP Hatao' (Remove BJP from power) was being so aggressive against the Congress, the only party with the pan India presence counter BJP, as well.

But it was just Mayawati who was attacking the Congress while Akhilesh Yadav was careful in choosing his words.

It seems clear that Mayawati has a larger political agenda in which the Congress doesn’t fit and the BSP chief continued to attack the Congress at a press conference on her birthday on Tuesday.

BSP's anti-Congressism is not difficult to decode. Despite being on same page of 'anti- BJP' politics at the moment, the party has a history of struggle with the Congress.

Even before the BJP emerged on the national stage, it was the BSP that invaded Congress's traditional strong Dalit vote bank in UP in the mid-1980s.

Over the next one decade, the shift of the Dalit votes from Congress to BSP was complete in UP and to some extent in states like Punjab, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan.

Currently, the BSP, despite having the tag of a national party, has a respectable base only in Uttar Pradesh. The inroads it had made in other states has been gradually washed away and Mayawati has been trying hard to overcome these losses.

On a pan India scenario, the BSP and Congress are in a struggle for Dalit votes. This was in play during the seat sharing talks for the assembly elections in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan, where the Congress did not accept the BSP’s seat demands despite long negotiations by Mayawati as the grand old party did not want to strengthen the BSP at its own cost.

mayawati-BSP

Illustration by Mir Suhail (News18.com)

In Karnataka, the BSP factor is said to have damaged the Congress's prospects in the last year's state election as Mayawati had entered into a pre-poll alliance with the JD(S), which emerged as the kingmaker. In Chhattisgarh too, BSP's alliance with Ajit Jogi's Janata Congress was also expected to make a dent in Congress's game plan, but the alliance didn't succeed.

With this inherent struggle for the same votebank, just the idea of being “anti-RSS and anti-BJP” has not been enough to bring the parties on a common platform.

In run-up to 2019 polls, Mayawati has now decided to reinvent her ‘anti-Congressism’.

Political analysts say that the reason for Mayawati’s sustained attacks on the Congress is also because of her prime ministerial ambitions as she wants to portray herself as an alternative to both Narendra Modi and Rahul Gandhi.

Through her strong attack against the Congress, Mayawati probably also wants to counter Rahul Gandhi's attempts to override caste identities by strongly emphasising on the agrarian crises.

How all this plays out on the national level remains to be seen. The rider is that despite being the harsh words against the Congress, the BSP-SP alliance has decided not to contest on Congress's traditional seats of Rai Bareli and Amethi, from where Congress president Rahul Gandhi and his mother Sonia contest.

Probably in all her anti-Congressism before the polls, Mayawati also wants to keep a window of possibility open in the post-poll scenario.

| Edited by: Aakarshuk Sarna
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