BSP chief's hard blows meet with timid retort from India's Grand Old Party.
In a setback to Opposition unity ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati said on Wednesday that her party will not enter into a tie-up with the Congress for the upcoming assembly elections in Rajasthan or Madhya Pradesh.
The BSP chief said even though Congress chief Rahul Gandhi and his mother Sonia Gandhi appeared in favour of an alliance, there were other 'senior leaders' who worked to foil any possibility of an understanding.
"The Congress is under the wrong impression that it can match all the tactics of the Bharatiya Janata Party...If the BJP faces just the Congress, it can easily form the government. Still the Congress does not seem prepared for an honest alliance between opposition parties" Mayawati said.
The BSP chief claimed that the people of the three states going to polls later this year were not in favour of the BJP returning to power but due to the Congress' 'stubborn attitude', her party had to strike an alliance with a regional party in Chhattisgarh.
Mayawati has announced an alliance with former chief minister Ajit Jogi's outfit in Chhattisgarh.
"Now, the BSP has decided to go it alone in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. We will not fight the elections with the Congress in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan at any cost," Mayawati said reading out a statement on TV.
The former Uttar Pradesh chief minister claimed the attitude of the Congress showed it was not serious to stop the BJP from coming back to power and was 'more interested in finishing the BSP movement and harming the party'.
"It was in the larger people's and national interest that our party agreed to an alliance to check the BJP, which was pursuing anti-people, anti-farmer, anti-poor and pro-capitalist policies, from coming to power," Mayawati said.
She claimed it was because of the Congress' attitude that BJP remained in power in MP, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and other states for a long time and yet the party had not mended itself.
"If this was not so, why did the Congress adopt a stubborn attitude and offered meagre seats to the BSP in these three states when everyone knows our vote gets transferred...We do not benefit much from alliances," she said referring to past instances.
Mayawati claimed the BSP had always supported the Congress to check the communal parties. But instead of feeling indebted to the BSP leadership, Congress like the BJP, betrayed us, she said adding 'there are a number of examples and the Taj Corridor issue is one such case'.
Mayawati said that though Congress president Rahul Gandhi and his mother Sonia Gandhi wanted an alliance with the BSP, there were some 'selfish senior' leaders in their party who were out to foil any understanding.
Congress leaders like Digvijay Singh do not wish for a Congress-BSP alliance, she claimed.
"A selfish senior leader, who is also a BJP agent, in his TV interview talking about the alliance claimed the BSP president was under pressure of ED and CBI to deter her from entering into an alliance. But this is totally baseless," Mayawati asserted.
"The Congress party's 'arrogance' is now evident and they feel that they can take on the BJP on their own. The truth is that the people are unwilling to forgive the Congress for their corrupt government," she added.
Apparently stunned by Mayawati's announcement, the Congress hoped that the BSP chief reposing her faith in Rahul and Sonia Gandhi will provide it a window of opportunity and 'creases will be ironed out' with harmony.
Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said the party's goal of defeating the BJP is clear and if any party walks along with it in achieving it is welcome, otherwise there can be a 'healthy contest' in this fight against the BJP and there is nothing wrong in it as happened in the past.
"Mayawati has expressed her sentiments and we respect that. She has reposed full faith in Rahul ji and Sonia ji and we respect that too. If there is harmony among Sonia Gandhi, who is our guide, and Rahul Gandhi, who is our leader, and Mayawati ji, then no fourth person can create a rift among them.
"If there are any creases left, they will be ironed out mutually among them with harmony," he told reporters.
Surjewala also said that once the leaders have amicable, respectable, fruitful relationship with each other, 'all other creases can be ironed out'.
"I don't think so alliances are discussed or announced in press conferences. I think her statement says a lot and that is what you should think," Surjewala said.
To a question on whether the Congress still has hope left in an alliance with the BSP, he said the BSP leader has expressed mutual respect and confidence towards the Congress president as also Sonia Gandhi.
"I think that is the most important rather than reading multiple meanings in the statement of Mayawati ji," he said.
On the charges levelled by Mayawati against certain Congress leaders, he said decisions on alliances and discussions on them between parties are not talked about in press conferences.
Surjewala said, "Be it with one party or another, be it in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan or Telangana, the state units and leadership will decide with whom they wish to ally or not to strengthen the opposition and they will deliberate with the alliances committee set up for the purpose."
The state units will discuss with the alliance committee and then take a decision, on whether an alliance is to be forged to defeat the BJP in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh and with the Telangana Rashtra Samiti in Telangana, he said.
Alliances will depend on state to state and the Congress will align with such parties that can strengthen the ideology and in the interest of the state's development, he said, adding that wherever it is felt that there is no scope for alliance and where the thoughts do not merge, 'there will be a healthy contest there in this fight against the BJP. There is nothing wrong in this, as this has happened in the past too'.
"The Congress's goal is one, other parties may have many goals, but the Congress goal in Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan is to free the people of the states from the tyranny of BJP rule and convert the destruction caused by BJP governments there into the stream of development.
"In this yajna, those who will support the Congress will move together with us and they are welcome according to the political situation. Those who are unable to walk along are free to choose their own path. But, that does not mean, the Congress's pledge and fight against the BJP and in removing it has weakened. It can be a thought of a particular person, but not us," Surjewala said.
He said the party does not agree with any criticism of its leaders by such a person.
"Sometimes, some statements are given by leaders in an emotional flow, but the target of the eye is not lost," he said.
He said he has already made it clear that he respects Mayawati and has been in favour of Congress-BSP alliance from the very beginning and talks between the two parties have already been held but she has declared candidates for 22 seats.
Digvijaya Singh said he has already made it clear that he respects Mayawati and has been in favour of Congress-BSP alliance from the very beginning and talks between the two parties have already been held.