Launching a scathing attack on the Congress, BSP chief Mayawati Wednesday said that her party will contest the upcoming polls in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh on its own and not in alliance with the Congress.
Mayawati said that some leaders in the party were out to “destroy” the BSP, though Congress president Rahul Gandhi and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi favoured an alliance. Calling the Congress “arrogant” with a “casteist and communal mindset”, she said that people had not forgiven the Congress for their “corrupt government”.
Her remarks left the Congress, which is trying to stitch together an alliance across the country against the BJP, scrambling for damage control and cautious in its response. The Congress pointed out that Mayawati had also expressed her regard for Rahul and Sonia Gandhi and said that “creases will be ironed out”. A section of the Congress, however, believes the BSP chief is setting the stage for some hard bargaining.
Her decision to contest polls alone came hours after Congress leader Digvijaya Singh said that Mayawati had wilted under pressure from the Centre and a fortnight after she announced an alliance with Ajit Jogi’s party in Chhattisgarh. The BSP also released a list of 22 candidates for the MP polls even as the Congress claimed that talks are still on.
Mayawati called Singh a BJP agent and said the Congress was trying to crush her party under the misconception that they can defeat the BJP on their own. “The reality is that people are unwilling to forgive Congress for their corrupt government,” Mayawati said. She also said that the Congress offered BSP just 9-10 seats in Rajasthan, 15-20 in Madhya Pradesh and 5-6 seats in Chhattisgarh despite the fact that BSP is the only party that can transfer its votes to other parties.
“In Rajasthan and MP too, we will either ally with regional parties or fight alone, not with Congress. Congress is trying to defeat their partners instead of BJP,” she said adding that Congress leaders like Singh did not want a Congress-BSP alliance as they are afraid of agencies like the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
“Digvijaya Singh, who is also a BJP agent, is giving statements that I am under a lot of pressure from Centre so I don’t want this alliance. This is totally false and baseless. I feel that Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi’s intentions for Congress-BSP alliance are honest. Though some Congress leaders are sabotaging this,” she said.
Singh, in an interview to ABP News, said there was “tremendous pressure on Mayawati from the central government…pressure from Amit Shah and (Prime Minister) Modi. They are misusing the Enforcement Directorate and CBI a lot to pressurise politicians.” Speaking to The Indian Express later in the day, Singh said, “I have no ED or Income Tax or CBI case against me. So I am not afraid. But at the same time, I am in favour of a Congress-BSP alliance and I hold Mayawatiji in great respect.”
Congress communication department head Randeep Surjewala referring to Mayawati’s statements about Rahul and Sonia argued that “if there is harmony among Sonia, Rahul and Mayawati…no fourth person can create obstacles.” Mayawati, he said, “has expressed mutual respect and confidence vis-a-vis Congress President Rahul Gandhi as also our leader and guide Sonia Gandhi. I think that is the most important issue rather than reading multiple meanings in the statement of Mayawati.”
“Once the two leaders have an amicable, respectable, fruitful relationship with each other…all other creases can be ironed out. I don’t think alliances are discussed or announced in press conferences. I think her statement says a lot and that is what you should read,” he said. According to Surjewala, the state units of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Telangana will take a call on the question of alliances, depending on the local situation and requirements, after discussions with the AICC.
He said the Congress has only one goal, which is to defeat the BJP in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. He said the Congress will welcome those who can work with it in that endeavour. “And those who cannot walk with us, they can tread their own path…which doesn’t mean that the resolve to oust the BJP and save the Congress and the country’s ideology is weakened.”
As for Mayawati’s comments against Singh, he said the Congress does not agree with “any adverse comment” made against any of its leaders adding that “…many things, both bitter and sweet, are said impulsively and at the heat of the moment.”