BSP chief Mayawati is known to hold her cards close to her chest. That is her strength, keeping everyone guessing about her next move, nay, her real objective. In the past, she has sprung many a surprise on her allies and foes alike by overnight changing committed positions, breaking alliances or striking new ones. Recently, when there was much talk of a Mahagathbandhan, with all the parties set to come together against the BJP, she jolted the votaries of wider opposition unity by stitching up an alliance with the Congress rebel, Ajit Jogi, who now boasts of a party of his own in the poll-bound Chhattisgarh. The alliance could cut into the Congress vote which was hoping to wrest power from the BJP after remaining in opposition for fifteen years.
Chief Minister Raman Singh may get yet another five-year term if the Jogi-Mayawati partnership sufficiently erodes the Congress vote, not an unlikely prospect. Indeed, Mayawati’s alliance in Chhattisgarh would automatically jeopardise her proposed alliance with the Samajwadi Party in UP since its main pillar was to defeat BJP. Anyway, in the immediate course, Mayawati’s alliance with Jogi undermines the credibility of the so-called Mahagathbandhan as and when it might come into existence, if at all. However, on Wednesday the BSP Supremo administered another shock to the votaries of the so-called grand alliance against the BJP when she announced the decision to go it alone in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh as well. She told a news agency that the Congress leaders were arrogant and untrustworthy, particularly targeting former MP chief minister Digvijay Singh. She would press ahead and field her own candidates in both these States.
Blaming the Congress leaders for taking her for granted, she claimed that the BSP had sizable pockets of strength in both these States and was determined to contest the poll on its own. Indeed, in Madhya Pradesh the BSP has already declared its candidates in 22 seats. However, a section of the Congress leadership feels that Mayawati might be bargaining for more seats and the announcement about her going alone was a mere ploy. Meanwhile, in Madhya Pradesh the Congress has sought to bring together smaller, caste-specific groups under its wing in order to prevent the splitting of the anti-BJP vote. Groups like the Samajawadi Party, Bahujan Sangharsh Dal, Gondwana Gantantra Party, Rashtriya Samata Dal, Prajatantrik Samadhan Party, etc are said to have agreed to join the Congress-led alliance.The two Communist parties, however, were reluctant to join on the ground that the Congress was pursuing ‘soft Hindutva’ as opposed to ‘hard Hindutva’ being espoused by the BJP. There are two prerequisites for all such alliances and both seem to be missing. One, a relatively tall leader is needed around when all the parties can come together; and, two, a common objective to bind them together. In the absence of both these preconditions, the Congress-led alliance is bound to prove a non-starter.