WEEKS AFTER the BSP’s dismal poll performance in Uttar Pradesh, party president Mayawati on Friday appointed her younger brother Anand Kumar as the party’s new national vice-president, officially designating him as No 2. Mayawati also said she is ready to join hands with “other anti-BJP parties”. While the political reach-out was mainly in the context of her allegations of tampering of electronic voting machines, the decision to elevate Kumar came as a surprise and drew charges of nepotism from dissenting voices within the BSP.
Addressing party workers at Ambedkar Memorial in Lucknow on the birth anniversary of B R Ambedkar, Mayawati also defended her election strategy of fielding 100 Muslim candidates. She said the community was part of the BSP movement.
She criticised the BJP government in UP, led by Yogi Adityanath, for not giving enough time to shop owners before cracking down on illegal meat shops and abattoirs, and offered support to women demanding closure of liquor shops in residential areas.
In a rare personal touch, Mayawati said she is tired of criticism that she reads out speeches and does not speak impromptu. She claimed that it was because one of the glands in her throat had to be removed in 1996. She said doctors had advised her to speak slowly with the help of written material.
Mayawati said she has decided to give Kumar “an important responsibility” on condition that he will work selflessly and will “never become an MP, MLA, minister or CM”. She said she has given him the freedom to run his real-estate business and bring his family members into the party.
Alleging that Kumar is being “harassed” by central agencies such as the Income-Tax department, CBI and Enforcement Directorate since 2014, the BSP chief said he has “continued his struggle and not given up”. “He told me that he would never play into the hands of these people to damage our movement,” she said. Kumar has been investigated by central agencies, which have scrutinised his wealth and stakes in dozens of firms.
His elevation, however, led to furious reactions from Mayawati’s critics, who accused her of discarding the vows taken by Kanshi Ram, who had cut all ties with his family to build the BSP.
Former BSP MP Pramod Kureel, who has been running a campaign against Mayawati, said, “She has appointed someone as the national vice-president who has not even been a member of the party. There is a rebellion against her and she wants to ensure that her brother will have control of the party. She is also trying to save him because any government action against Kumar will now be considered a political issue.”
Former BSP minister Kamla Kant Gautam, who left the party after the election results, said, “Kanshi Ram-saheb had taken a vow that he will not acquire any property and ended his relationship with his family. What is happening now is total nepotism.”
Laying out BSP’s political roadmap. Mayawati also said, “We don’t have any problem in joining hands with anti-BJP parties fighting against the BJP and EVM manipulation, if they want to join us.”