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Home > India > News > Columnists > Nazarwala

Mayawati may settle for deputy prime minister

February 18, 2008

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The Bahujan Samaj Party and Bharatiya Janata Party have once again come very close. Just a teeny-weenie little ark remains to be bridged at the top, and J will convert to an S.

Mayawati, no doubt, may have emerged on the national scene with a bang. Yet, she is practical and realistic enough to realise that she may not make it to the winning post single-handedly this time. Oh no, not as yet.

Coalition politics means making compromises. For this she has had to, perforce, join hands with some others. Dream as much as she may like, but Mayawati, single-handedly cannot make it to the prime minister's chair this time.

She has to face this harsh reality -- whatever her IAS and party sycophants may say to her face -- this practical Capricornian has compromised and settled for less than her recent euphoric dreams.

The earlier goody-goody relations between Mayawati and Sonia Gandhi [Images] have soured recently. Now Mayawati is targeting the Congress party's erstwhile vote bank because she knows that if she wishes to grab their votes she has to attack the Congress.

Together the Congress and BSP will not be able to win seats enough to make them eligible to form a government after the next election. Moreover, Rahul Gandhi [Images]'s provocative remarks have rankled Mayawati who has decided to teach Sonia's Congress a lesson.

Thanks to her personal hatred of Mulayam Singh Yadav and his goons, the Samajwadi Party is ruled out for Mayawati. She would prefer Laloo Prasad Yadav to Mulayam any day.

Mulayam Singh has once again started flexing his muscles. But not all the Amar Singhs, Chandrababu Naidu [Images]s, Farooq Abdullahs, Om Parkash Chautalas and others put together can help him make it to the prime minister's post as of today.

Their desperation was apparent when they had to stoop, and troop to Daulatpur in Bara Banki, UP, for the Aishwarya Rai [Images] Vidyalaya farce.

The Communists, who are influenced by Mulayam Singh, are not close to Mayawati. Nor does she feel very confident and close to the likes of A B Bardhan, Prakash Karat and the others.

In any case, the Commies are not going to emerge very strong in the next election.

This brings us to the BJP. The BJP has been her long-time ally. She has had a love-hate relationship with them. Their flexible approach has suited her vested interests, off and on. Some leaders hate her. Rajnath Singh, the BJP president, is one of them. Some continue to respect her like Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi [Images]. The Vishwa Hindu Parishad too prefers her.

Senior BJP leaders have stood by her when she needed their support the most. When Central Bureau of Investigation sleuths grilled a scared and vulnerable Mayawati in the disproportionate assets investigation, it was L K Advani she desperately turned to.

During the CBI's stiff and inconvenient interrogation, she would go to the bathroom on some pretext or the other, and make secret calls to Advani, then the Union home minister. The respite she got in those crucial stress-laden moments -- thanks to Advani's intervention -- has not been forgotten.

Mayawati also feels more relaxed and confident in dealing with the known devils of the BJP. Take her election visit to Gujarat. Not a word against old friend Modi. On his part, the far-sighted Modi, too, did not attack her during his UP assembly election campaign.

Both Mayawati and Narendra Modi understand each other. They share an excellent chemistry, being fully aware of each other's political potential, strengths and weaknesses.

Sharp and subtle Arun Jaitley, who is in charge of UP, is a close confidante of Modi. Jaitley is the strategist par excellence who wrested Punjab for the BJP.

This ever-resourceful Supreme Court advocate has all the tricks to 'manage' the CBI-phobic and Supreme Court-vulnerable Mayawati. Relief was writ large on her face, the other day, when just a minor Supreme Court order went in her favour.

Do not, therefore, be surprised if she allows herself to be ensnared into Jaitley's trap. The Modi-Jaitley duo can do the impossible for the BJP.

The VHP had gone out of its way to support Mayawati in the recent UP election. She is a Hindu, therefore, the VHP sees her as acceptable and worthy of support.

Ashok Singhal, the VHP supremo prefers the 'strong' Mayawati even to a 'vacillating' Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Rajnath Singh, the Thakur politician, cannot stand the Dalit lady in power.

Mayawati, too, does not like him. She has subtly cut him down to size with the tantalising CD scandal. Her whiplash on that Thakur has thrilled the BJP's UP Brahmins like Kalraj Mishra, Murli Manohar Joshi, etc no end.

Politics teaches people a lot of skills. And patience. Today, Rajnath Singh, the BJP's national president, is desperate and totally confused by this wily lady.

He has seen Mayawati's political clout in UP. Rajnath Singh shall never forget the severe drubbing Mayawati gave his party during the 2007 assembly election.

The strange mathematics of politics in India today is such that the BJP will just not get a majority to come to power at the Centre. It will certainly need additional numbers to grab power.

That is where Mayawati's support is expected to come in and make up the deficit. Therefore, discretion is the better part of BJP's valour. Rajnath Singh has wisely decided to stay silent. His overtures will not suit nor soothe her.

Mayawati's voters are Dalits from all over India. Their blind support for her is rapidly coalescing into a solid all-India base. They have started believing/hoping that she is the one and only Dalit leader in India who will become prime minister.

None else has the charisma that Mayawati has. Whether it is right or wrong, true or false, is a moot point. The Dalits of India perceive and believe it. The upper caste votes, which went to the Congress, are her next target. She will bite into those, hoping for a huge chunk.

The Congress, for its part, is a dead party desperately fighting for its survival.

Mayawati will ruthlessly do whatever remains to be done to bury the Congress.

Earlier, it used to be the Brahmins, Dalits and Muslims who ensured the brute majority leading to Congress victories. Mayawati is the only one whom the Dalits, nowadays, look up to. Forget the Paswans and Prakashes, the Mahabir Prasads and Meira Kumaris. All of them have become laughing stock. Their minor pockets of Dalit influence are dwindling faster than they wish to admit.

The Brahmins and upper castes have started ditching the Congress. The operation for weaning away the Brahmins and Muslims has been set in motion. An anti-incumbency price has to be paid by the Congress. The opportunists of the upper castes have also increasingly started plumping for Mayawati.

More and more Indians perceive Mayawati as an emerging and strong woman leader of India.

The Muslim factor is vital

It can swing either way -- to the Congress or to Mayawati.

The Ram Sethu confusion has not endeared the Congress to the Muslims. Their enemy, the BJP, has been strengthened due to the mishandling by the Congress.

Mayawati has shrewdly exploited the BJP CD to tantalise the Muslims.

Seeing her growing strength and winning potential, this time the Muslims are likely to opt for her rather than for their traditional favourite, the Congress.

All said and done, Mayawati's choice will ultimately have to veer in favour of the BJP.

The basic assumption at the moment being that the BJP will put its house in order. That the BJP and VHP cadres will work unitedly, and hard enough to retrieve their fast eroding credibility as well as the vital Hindu vote bank.

With the election fast approaching, one can expect the BJP strategists to spring a surprise bombshell to polarise the Hindu votes.

Mayawati may not be too thrilled, having to compromise and subdue her vaulting prime ministerial ambitions. Her BSP organisational machinery is just a little short of becoming an all-India one. Alleged corruption may trigger off anti-incumbency forces. Therefore, she has no choice -- at least, not this time.

How about the BJP's L K Advani as the prime minister? Of course, ably joined by the BSP's Mayawati as the deputy prime minister.

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