Ajoy Bose, the author of Behenji, a political biography of Mayawati, on the Bahujan Samaj Party leader's gameplan:
Mayawati has changed the political scenario. Her game plan is very simple. There are several issues on which she stands to gain.
Firstly, the Samajwadi Party and the Congress feel that their alliance will get them Muslim votes. They will try to combine their vote banks to pose a challenge to her in Uttar Pradesh. She is a very formidable political force in that state.
The Muslims are a little upset about the nuclear deal because it is a negotiation with the US. The deal is seen as a way of the government getting close to the Bush administration which is not liked by the Muslims.
The Samajwadi Party was saying that they represented Uttar Pradesh Muslims and that Mayawati was anti-Muslim because she took the Bharatiya Janata Party's support in forming a government in UP on different occasions. So the nuclear deal has become a convenient stick for Mayawati to beat the Samajwadi Party and the Congress with. That is why she got so involved in the nuclear deal now. Earlier on, she did not comment on it. She is a very pragmatic politician.
Secondly, as things are turning out she obviously has ambitions beyond UP. She is regarded as a major Dalit leader and a frontrunner for the prime minister's post after the next election. Now this controversy has led to the emergence of an alliance which is looking for a leader with the kind of muscle that she has. She is the leader of India's largest state.
What is Mayawati really like
This whole situation was started by Prakash Karat of the Communist Party of India-Marxist visiting her. Then you had the Telengana Rashtra Samithi's Chandrasekhar Rao actually naming her as the future prime minister. Then you had the Telugu Desam and A B Bardhan supporting her. Then came Ajit Singh and Deve Gowda. The media covered it, which created a larger than life image.
What I feel is that she is in a win-win situation. If she manages to topple the government, she will be seen as the main victor. She is most ready for the next election. Even if the government manages to win the trust vote, she doesn't really lose. She has the issue. She can go around with huge photographs of Bush and Manmohan Singh [Images] hugging each other to get the Muslim vote.
She already has a national profile. The BJP-National Democratic Alliance will not benefit either way. Poor people, farmers, Dalits, Muslims are all angry with the government at this point. There are a lot of issues. There is always an anti-incumbency factor and this time it is very strong. She is already a formidable force and there are other factors helping her.
For the next election, the BSP will think twice before having formal alliances with any party. Mayawati so far has stayed away from formal alliances. She will have an understanding with other parties in other states. We have to see how it works.
In Andhra Pradesh, a front is already being formed. This front will include the TRS, the TDP, the Left and the BSP. This will be a formidable front because it squeezes the BJP out and faces the Congress without any handicap. There is a sizeable Muslim vote in Andhra Pradesh.
As Chief Minister Y S Rajasekhar Reddy is in power there he will have to face an anti-incumbency wave both at the state and the Centre. I do not know what will happen in Tamil Nadu because there it is a fight between the Dravida Munnetra Kazagham and the All India Dravida Munnetra Kazagham. If we go state by state you will see that the Dalits are everywhere. The images they see on television and the print media is going to impress them. She is an icon for the Dalits.
'Mayawati is coming' is a slogan for them now. It is the aspiration for a Dalit prime minister. It is a serious factor but we do not know how far it will work.
Her understanding with other regional players will also help her. The Congress has always got a certain component of the Dalit vote. Every time the Congress goes after Mayawati and files cases against her, the Dalits will see it as an assault on them.
Disillusionment with Mayawati has not come yet. At the moment she is too new to have any handicaps.
Her advantage is that she is very flexible. She is very quick to act. See what happened in Delhi? The Congress was in a dilemma when the Left withdrew support. The Samajwadi Party came to their rescue. The BJP was gloating over the Left's plight. They were not doing anything else.
Mayawati was the one who changed the situation. She is an extremely spunky lady. She punches way above her weight. Other leaders would think twice about being projected as prime minister with 17 MPs. She did not hesitate. She does not have any MPs outside UP but she doesn't think about that.
She has taken the plunge and will follow through.
Ajoy Bose spoke to A Ganesh Nadar.