Scotching all rumours about a rift between the two, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) supremo Kanshi Ram on Saturday formally declared senior leader Mayawati as his successor in what he termed as the 'struggle for the rule by the bahujan samaj'.
Addressing a massive rally in Lucknow, attended by a truly attentive and responsive crowd, his declaration appointing Mayawati as his 'heir' drew thunderous applause.
The announcement was meant to give a blow to Mayawati's detractors, some of whom were recently shown the door by her.
Two such prominent leaders R K Chaudhary (a former minister) and Barkhoo Ram Verma (former assembly speaker) had been trying to impress upon the party rank and file that they were still the favourites of Kanshi Ram despite their strong differences with Mayawati.
The rally also marked the launching of the party's election campaign in Uttar Pradesh where assembly polls are expected to be held in February.
The BSP founder addressed a rally in Lucknow after a gap of nearly four years, during which the party witnessed a revolt by those who were known to be enjoying the confidence of Kanshi Ram.
Significantly, in sharp contrast to her normal vitriolic self, neither did Mayawati train her guns on her favourite whipping boy Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav nor did she spew venom against the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP).
She dismissed the Samajwadi Party with a simple reminder that its chief Mulayam was the same person who had engineered a murderous attack on her and her partymen and simply described the BJP as 'untrustworthy'.
Interestingly, other than Lok Jan Shakti leader Ram Vilas Paswan and another up and coming dalit ideologue Ram Raj, this time her prime target was the Congress.
"Perhaps many would not be aware that Congressmen maintained double standards about Babasaheb Ambedkar - even while they projected him as their hero, they got someone to contest elections against him," she charged.
Apparently alarmed over the slow yet visible resurgence of the Congress, which is desperate to regain its badly eroded vote bank of minorities and dalits, Mayawati sought to warn her audience against any such overtures by the Congress.
Political observers see her tirade against the Congress as another way to show that her party's was a battle for the national scene, unlike her other rivals - the Samajwadi Party, Lok Jan Shakti and others.
Perhaps for the first time, Mayawati did not hesitate to publicly demand contributions to celebrate her birthday.
"Those who have not sent in their contributions so far must do it within the next week," she declared in a manner that seemed more like a birthright.
It was not very long ago that she had taken strong exception to media reports about her demand for 'birthday gifts'.
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