Mayawati sounds poll bugle, equates Mathura & Muzaffarnagar with Godhra
- Things have been heating up in the run-up to the UP Assembly elections in 2017, but Mayawati has been quite silent
- On Saturday, the BSP supremo sounded the poll bugle, lashing out at the SP and the BSP simultaneously
- Mayawati equated the communal violence in Mathura and Muzaffarnagar with the post-Godhra riots of 2002
- In doing so, she made it clear that the deteriorating communal situation in UP would be a key poll plank for her
- Mayawati\'s silence on the Congress - what does it mean?
- The BSP\'s failure in Lok Sabha 2014, and what Mayawati has learnt from it
The battle for Uttar Pradesh is heating up, but many have wondered why Bahujan Samaj Party supremo Mayawati has been virtually absent from it till now. But on Saturday, 4 June, the former Chief Minister made her strongest pitch yet, hitting out with equal force at both the ruling Samajwadi Party and the challenger, the Bharatiya Janata Party.
In a fiery speech, she hauled both her rivals over the coals on the issue of communal disturbances in their respective regimes, equating the recent violence in Mathura and the Muzaffarnagar riots of 2013 with the post-Godhra riots of 2002.
"Like Narendra Modi would be remembered for the 2002 post-Godhra massacre, similarly, the Samajwadi Party government could not rid itself of the black spots that were the Muzaffarnagar and Gonda riots," Mayawati said in Lucknow. "And now, the Mathura violence has put the SP government in the dock; it can be fully compared with the Gujarat violence."
Mayawati accused the Union government of apathy towards Uttar Pradesh, and the state government of presiding over a 'jungle raj', or a state of lawlessness. "These two parties (SP and BSP) are two sides of the same coin," she also alleged.
The pivot of her campaign
With the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections set to be held early next year, this is Mayawati's strongest assault on her rivals yet. The BSP was wiped out in the state in the Lok Sabha elections of 2014, giving rise to speculation over its position vis-a-vis the Assembly polls.
Many say Mayawati has been working silently and steadily, consolidating the party's vote-bank and also identifying prospective candidates. Her aggressive posturing indicates that she is ready for the battle.
If this speech is any indicator, it's clear that the state's poor record in terms of communal violence since 2012 will be the pivot of her electoral campaign.
The Muzaffarnagar riots had claimed over 60 lives, officially, but had left over 50,000 people displaced. The riots have had a massive impact across the countryside in western Uttar Pradesh.
Mayawati has probably realised that this could help bring her back to the seat of power in Lucknow.
Alliance on the cards?
It is also noteworthy that she spared the Congress party from her attacks. The Congress is also looking at UP2017 as a high-stakes battle, and has invested significant political capital in the state.
Roping in new-age strategist Prashant Kishor is part of the same game plan. The significance that Kishor also attaches to the contest can be gauged from the unthinkable suggestion that he made to the party high command - to bring in party vice-president Rahul Gandhi as the CM candidate.
The party has reportedly turned that suggestion down, but Kishor is said to be working on many other strategies. One critical move that has been rumoured for some time now is a tie-up between the Congress and the BSP.
Mayawati's decision to lash out at SP and BJP in one go and keep the Congress out of it may be a sign of some kind of an understanding between both the parties.
Another development in neighbouring Madhya Pradesh only added to this speculation. Mayawati has announced support of four MLAs to Congress's nominee for the Rajya Sabha poll, Vivek Tankha. BSP said that it can not win a Rajya Sabha seat on its own, but will support the Congress candidate "to weaken communal forces".
It may be recalled that the BSP had also bailed out the Congress in Uttarakhand recently.
A BSP-Congress alliance in UP will be a formidable challenge for the BJP, as well as the SP. The Bihar elections last year have already demonstrated the power of alliances between parties opposed to the BJP.
Nevertheless, even if that alliance does not materialise, Mayawati has sounded the poll bugle with force. From now on, her campaign will be worth watching.
Edited by Shreyas Sharma
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