The October 29 statement by the BSP (Bahujan Samaj Party) chief Mayawati that she could support the BJP (Bhartiya Janta Party) candidates in the Legislative Council election in UP due early next year to defeat the Samajwadi Party has not come as a surprise as she had in the past backed the saffron party several times. It is other thing that the BSP had contested the last year’s Lok Sabha poll in alliance with the same SP whose candidates she now wants to defeat.
Her statement in fact has landed the supremo of the All Indian Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen, Asaduddin Owaisi in hell lot of trouble as the people have started questioning him to clarify his stand. The AIMIM is contesting the Bihar Assembly election in alliance with the BSP, Upendra Kushwaha’s Rashtriya Lok Samata Party, and former Union minister Devendra Prasad Yadav’s little known outfit.
Apparently, Mayawati’s support to the BJP came in the context of Uttar Pradesh, but its importance has increased in Bihar, where none in the AIMIM is ready to speak on the issue.
Political observers are in near agreement that Mayawati’s statement was actually meant for Bihar though she may be upset after at least seven of the BSP MLAs–the number may increase further–revolted and crossed over to the SP. As the importance of even one or two legislators may matter incase of Hung Assembly in Bihar the BSP leader had dropped enough hint as where her loyalty lies. At the same time Mayawati had, in a way, asked her supporters to vote for the BJP if the latter is in trouble.
The big question is: if the BSP really backs the BJP in the case of the saffron party emerging as a much bigger party than the alliance partner the Janata Dal (United), what will be the response of the RLSP and AIMIM. RLSP too had no problem with Narendra Modi; Upendra Kushwaha just does not like chief minister Nitish Kumar.
The surprise aspect is why the AIMIM chose to join hands with the BSP when Mayawati’s hobnobbing with the saffron brigade had been going on for the last few weeks.
Uttar Pradesh is going to have Rajya Sabha election for 10 seats on November 9. The BJP has fielded eight candidates and had 24 surplus MLAs. The vote of at least 37 MLAs is required to ensure victory of one Rajya Sabha seat. The BJP could have won the ninth seat too with the help of at least 13 legislators. But it did not field the ninth candidate.
Instead the BSP, which had only 18 MLAs put up Ramji Lal Gautam as its candidate. Thus there was a tacit understanding that 24 of the BJP surplus votes would be transferred to the BSP, which had only 18 legislators. This was somewhat unusual gesture by the BJP.
But Mayawati’s move to send Gautam to Rajya Sabha with the help of BJP was not liked by most of her 18 MLAs. Seven of them resigned and crossed over to the SP and five of the 10 who initially proposed the name of Gautam withdrew. So practically BSP has just half a dozen or so legislators left. How much will their support matter to the BJP against SP in the Legislative Council election.
Besides, the BJP with such brute majority in the House does not need any support of BSP in UP where the Assembly election is due in February 2022. So Mayawati’s October 29 offer was more meant for Bihar, rather than for UP. Owaisi’s silence on the entire development further exposes his doublespeak.
(Soroor Ahmed is a senior journalist based in Patna)