Rahul Gandhi's praise of Mayawati has set tongue wagging in U P
Lucknow: The statement praising Bahujan Samaj Party chief, Mayawati, by Congress vice-president, Rahul Gandhi, here on Sunday has led to all kinds of speculations in Uttar Pradesh.
One guess is that he wants to keep the option open and not to close it with alliance with the Samajwadi Party in the state. The party may suffer and may not get the majority required to form a government. Closing all other options, therefore, may go against the interest of the party.
After all, the party has not treated the BSP as an untouchable in the past. It had formed an alliance with the party in 1996. It is another matter that from that alliance the Congress had gained more than the BSP. And Mayawati had not silently suffered on this account.
She had told the close-aides then that while the Dalit votes were transferred to the Congress, Congress votes were not transferred to the BSP. Also that the alliance with the party was not beneficial to the BSP.
The other speculation is that he has made this statement with an eye on the 2019 Lok Sabha election and not on the Uttar Pradesh election. It is a testing time for Rahul. If his party does not do well in the next parliament poll his stock will fall alarmingly low.
There is already a demand in a section of the party to bring in his sister Priyanka Gandhi to rejuvenate it. In other words, this group wants to convey that the party's prospect will not be better without her. If it does not do better the demand will grow for a change in the leadership.
The alliance with the SP alone may not be enough to keep the ruling Bhartiya Janta Party at bay. A grand alliance on Bihar lines may be required to upset the saffron plan.
The task, however, is not easy. The SP and the BSP may not come together unless they have completed forgotten the Lucknow State Guest House incident which had shaken Mayawati beyond words. It was the first alliance between the two. and the only government formed by them in the state. The government had not last long and as long as it is fresh in their memory any other alliance with the two parties in it, in addition to the Congress and other like minded parties, seems to be a remote possibility.
However, there is no permanent friendship or enmity in politics. Anything can happen. Rahul does not seem to disbelieve it.