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Tactical retreat

Tactical retreat

Author: Subhash Mishra
Publication: India Today
Date: March 3, 2008
URL: http://indiatoday.digitaltoday.in/index.php?option=com_content&Itemid=1&task=view&id=4875&sectionid=23&issueid=42&latn=2

Mayawati shuns a surname but if she ever chooses to tag one, it could well be "unpredictable". On Monday last, she met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in Delhi after which she indicated that she has put her decision of withdrawal of support to the Congress-led Government at the Centre on hold. However, she is unlikely to stay quiet for long and may well renew her onslaught on the Congress soon enough.

Mayawati, who is now dreaming of becoming the next prime minister, has realised that the Congress's popularity is on the wane given the recent electoral results in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh. She thinks this is the appropriate time to wage her war against the Congress-she has also directed her party cadres to disrupt Congress meetings in the state and take on Rahul Gandhi head on.

The chief minister, who is emerging as a powerful Dalit leader outside Uttar Pradesh, is set to test her formula for social engineering of the Dalit-Brahmin combination all over India in the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections. She is touring the country with Satish Mishra, the Brahmin face of the BSP, to wean away Dalit and Brahmin votes from the Congress and has constantly been targeting the Congress at her rallies.

A rattled Congress has now started a "hisaab maango" (seek an explanation) campaign from the BSP Government in the state. The party leadership is depending on Union HRD Minister Arjun Singh, former chief minster Digvijay Singh and party General Secretary Rahul Gandhi and other leaders to turn the tables on the chief minister. However, such tactics may not work after the dismal impact that Rahul made in Uttar Pradesh during the last Assembly elections, when the party garnered just 21 seats in a House of 403.

Mayawati knows fully well that to win seats outside her state, she will have to keep attacking the Congress to weaken it and brand it as a failed and outdated party. The truce with Manmohan just seems to be a tactical retreat.

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