Mulayam may be keen to shake hands with Maya, but is she?
Is SP chief even a dependable partner?
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Samajwadi Party (SP) supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav may be keen to once again shake hands with his Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) counterpart Mayawati. However, whether she would also be equally inclined to go for such a realignment with the SP after a gap of two long decades remains a million dollar question.
In fact, Mulayam’s inclination for a rapproachment was discreetly conveyed through a statement made by Fareed Mahfooz Kidwai, a low profile member of the Akhilesh Yadav Cabinet, who was recently elevated from a minister of state to minister of state with independent charge.
Kidwai, who is otherwise a man of very few words, suddenly shot into the spotlight when he publicly sought to suggest that a re-alignment between the SP and BSP could play the same magic in Uttar Pradesh as the Nitish-Lalu Grand Alliance in Bihar. Sure enough, it could not have been an off-the-cuff remark by Kidwai who is rarely seen or heard making a public statement. Obviously, it was by design, believed to have been masterminded by Mulayam.
Shortly thereafter, on being asked to comment whether there could be a possibility of a Bihar-like alliance in Uttar Pradesh, chief minister Akhilesh told mediapersons in Sant Kabir Nagar, “Such a possibility could not be ruled out.”
He said, “Sure enough, there is every chance that Samajwadi Party could be part of a bigger political alliance in Uttar Pradesh at the 2017 state Assembly elections.” However, within 24 hours of Akhilesh’s statement, came a pointed snub from the BSP state president Swami Prasad Maurya.
Maurya ruled out any such alliance, while also adding, “Behenji would prefer to go it alone at the next Assembly election.” Anyone who is familiar with the internal functioning of the BSP would know that such a statement cannot be issued without express approval of party supremo Mayawati, whose aversion for the SP has always been an open secret.
The situation was different in Bihar, where the rift between Nitish and Lalu was never as deep or sharp as between the two regional straps in Uttar Pradesh, thanks to the violent attack by SP men on Mayawati in Lucknow’s State Guest House on June 2, 1995.
It was this incident that instantly propelled Mayawati to the chief minister’s chair after which there was no looking back for her. But the scars of the attack were so deeply embedded in her mind that she continues to treat Mulayam as a personal foe. She always termed the attack as an unpardonable attempt on her life. No wonder, therefore, that whenever any idea of rapproachment with Mulayam is mooted, it is received with a flat “no” from Mayawati.
Sources close to Mayawati maintain that any change in her attitude towards Mulayam is most unlikely even today. “It is too personal an issue to be overlooked by behenji, who is convinced that the SP was out to get her eliminated in 1995,” points out a senior BSP leader.
Even if a deal was struck through some political jugglery between the two rival political outfits, the sharing of seats between them was bound to become the first stumbling block. Consider how Mulayam marched out of the Grand Alliance in Bihar simply because Lalu and Nitish decided to give only five seats to the SP. He made it a big ego issue and cited humiliation as the key reason for his departure from that alliance, even though it was common knowledge that the SP chief had succumbed to “blackmailing” by the BJP through the use of the CBI sword – an old tactics earlier practised by those in power to bring rivals to their knees. As for Mulayam’s loud claims that he had walked out of the Grand Alliance simply because he had not being given his due share of seats in Bihar, less said, the better. His party’s pathetic performance with barely one per cent vote share falling in its kitty in Bihar says it all.
There is no denying that the SP and BSP had entered into an alliance 20 years ago when BSP founder Kanshi Ram shook hands with Mulayam, who was also given the chief minister’s chair. The BSP chose to extend outside support to a SP government led by Mulayam, but Kanshi Ram and Mayawati chose to pull the rug from under Mulayam’s feet one fine morning. That left Mulayam completely shaken and his partymen retaliated by using brute physical force on BSP legislators in the State Guest House where Mayawati remained closeted in her suite for hours to save her life. Street fight between SP and BSP legislators was also later witnessed on the floor of the state Assembly - something alien to the Grand Alliance partners in an otherwise violent Bihar.
Above all, the loss of face suffered by Mulayam on account of his abrupt departure from the Bihar Grand Alliance leaves very little room for him to be now considered as a “dependable” partner by any political combine that may emerge in Uttar Pradesh for a battle of the ballot in 2017.