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BSP Chief Mayawati might support BJP in next MLC elections

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Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati created a stir on Thursday by announcing that her party might support the BJP in the next MLC elections to “get back” at the Samajwadi Party for allegedly trying to woo seven BSP MLAs who had met SP chief Akhilesh Yadav, four of whom had attempted to jinx the BSP’s chances of getting a Rajya Sabha seat by withdrawing support to its candidate. All seven MLAs were suspended by the BSP on Thursday. “In the MLC elections, BSP will put all its might behind defeating the SP candidate even if the party has to vote for BJP or any other opposition candidate for this,” said Mayawati. Her statement was seen as confirmation of claims of proximity between the BSP and the BJP alleged over the past two months by parties like the Congress, whose general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra reacted to Mayawati’s announcement saying, “Is there anything left after this?”

Gandhi Vadra had earlier, without naming the BSP chief, called Mayawati the BJP’s unofficial spokesperson. The SP said Mayawati’s statement validated what it had already been suspecting – an undeclared arrangement between the BSP and the BJP for the Rajya Sabha elections – as even with enough MLA votes to spare, the BJP, unlike in 2018, had refused to field an additional candidate while the BSP, with mere 18 MLAs, had decided to go ahead with a nomination. The SP’s move to extend support to independent candidate Prakash Bajaj was to “expose” this arrangement, the party said.

More importantly, it allowed for rumblings within the party that had also formed a base for the MLAs to rebel, to find validation. A general proximity has been cited with the BJP by MLAs upset with the BSP, who said Mayawati’s close aides within the party, including all India general secretary Satish Chandra Mishra, who advise her on important matters, were steering it into a direction “away from the core ideology of working for the welfare of Dalits and religious minorities”. It has not helped that Mayawati had chosen to remain soft on the BJP over the Hathras rape and murder incident, even though it involved a Dalit, and the BJP’s move of not fielding an additional candidate for the upper house was allegedly a “reward” for the same, said some political watchers.

SP MLC Udayveer told ET that Mayawati’s statement was merely a “repetition” of a similar but open arrangement that the BSP and SP had for trading support for each other’s candidates in the 2018 Rajya Sabha elections and the subsequent MLC elections. “Today, she said because SP acted a particular way, we will vote for BJP in MLC elections but in reality she actually admitted to an arrangement she had already entered into with BJP,” said Udayveer. BJP UP secretary Chandramohan denied any such arrangements, though, and said the BJP does “value-based” politics unlike the opposition, and that when it enters into alliances, it does so openly and not secretly.

A member of the opposition party said on condition of anonymity that looking at what the BJP has done to other opposition leaders like Lalu Prasad and some SP leaders who are in jail, Mayawati is under pressure to side with the BJP on a lot of matters and this has upset the party’s core voter base, thus making MLAs insecure of their re-election. Three of the seven rebel MLAs are Muslims.

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