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Maya's exit may bring Cong, SP close

By Sharat Pradhan
Last updated on: June 21, 2008 23:02 IST
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Bahujan Samaj Party and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati's sudden withdrawal of support to the United Progressive Alliance government at the Centre may accelerate the much-awaited rapprochement between the Congress and Samajwadi Party.

Mayawati withdraws support to UPA government

With the SP leadership already known to be looking for an opportunity to shake hands with Congress, Mayawati's decision was bound to propel the Congress leadership to respond at last -- even though the withdrawal was not likely to even remotely affect the fate of the UPA government.

The UPA has a strength of 220 in a 543-member Lok Sabha , where Mayawati's BSP has only 17 members.

The road to Delhi is now clear: Mayawati

Political compulsions are bound to bring the two adversaries to a negotiating table since both have a tougher task ahead of them -- to tackle the visibly increasing might of the BSP, which has equal contempt for both SP and Congress.

Such an eventuality was becoming increasingly visible ever since Mayawati cold-shouldered SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav's recent attempt to break ice with her. 

Even though Mulayam's visit to Mayawati's official residence in Lucknow last fortnight was ostensibly meant to finalise the constitution of the state Human Rights Commission, political analysts saw it as the SP chief's much beleaguered effort to thaw the long standing bitterness between the two chieftains.

Mayawati made it loud and clear that she was least impressed by Mulayam's one-step forward. And to send her message louder, she went to the extent of ordering partial demolition of the sprawling private mansion belonging to Mulayam chum Subroto Roy, the head of the multi-billion Sahara empire.

Mayawati's bulldozers overran the 1.2 km long boundary wall of Roy's personal 170 acre residential estate no sooner than word went around that Mayawati had softened her stand on Sahara after Mulayam's much-talked about visit to her house.

As far as the Congress was concerned, it was amply evident that Mayawati never had any love lost for the Congress. Political analysts were of the view that her proximity with the Congress was aimed at deriving her pound of flesh.

She made no bones about her intentions when she laid down a whopping demand for a special economic package of Rs.80,000 crore before Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at her first meeting with him within days of her assuming the UP chief minister's office for the fourth time in May 2007.

Sure enough, she was full aware that such a tall order could never be granted by a Central government to any state under any circumstances. Clearly, the idea behind raising the demand was to keep the Congress-led UPA on tenterhooks.

That was exactly what she did all along her 13 months in office. And sure enough, the shrewd politician in her could not think of a more opportune time to strike. After all, the Congress was currently on a weak wicket -- both on account of the price rise as well as because of the left stand on the nuclear deal.

Meanwhile, Mulayam was busy spreading the word that Mayawati had struck deal with Advani to get the country's deputy prime ministership in the event of BJP riding on to power.

Mayawati apparently went overboard in condemning the BJP at her press conference in New Delhi on Saturday. But both SP as well as Congress insiders continued to suspect that there was something cooking between BSP and BJP, which had put up three unsuccessful coalitions over the past in Uttar Pradesh.

Mulayam may be maintaining studied silence for the time being and so was the Congress too refusing to make any comment on the possibility of a hand-shake with the SP. But such a political re-alignment appears to be an eventuality once the poll bugle is sounded in the country's most populous state.

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Sharat Pradhan