‘She didn’t try to give a political message that she wanted to go to Lakhimpur’.

 

New Delhi: The political response of Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) supremo Mayawati to the Lakhimpur incident has added more credibility to the general perception that she does not want to pose a serious electoral challenge to the BJP in view of the forthcoming elections scheduled for February next year.

One reason for this, according to political observers who are following the developments in Uttar Pradesh, could be the possibility of BSP and BJP eventually joining hands after the elections in case the BJP is not able to secure a majority on its own. In case this happens, the caste matrix will lead to the installing of a Dalit Chief Minister.

While the Congress, Samajwadi Party (SP), Rashtriya Lok Dal, the Trinamool Congress (TMC), Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and the BHIM party raised vociferous protests against the alleged involvement of BJP Union minister’s Ajay Mishra in the entire accident that took place on 3 October, the BSP leadership chose to adopt what has been described as a “laid back” approach.

BHIM army leader Chandrashekhar was among the first political entities which was able to enter Lakhimpur on 4 October. Even AAP, led by its leader Sanjay Singh, made more political noise as they attacked the BJP while trying to enter Lakhimpur and meet the family members. Singh was eventually allowed to meet the family members on 6 October after being under police arrest for at least 50 hours. Leaders from Trinamool Congress, who have little stake in the state, and representatives of much smaller parties like Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD), too, were able to enter Lakhimpur and meet the family members of the victims of the violence.

While RLD leader Jayant Chaudhary was among the first mainstream political leaders who met the family members of the accident on 4 October, prominently, TMC’s all-women members’ team, comprising MP Kakoli Ghosh, Sushmita Dev, Dola Sen and others, were able to dodge the strong police presence and enter Lakhimpur on 5 October.

Similarly, while the state administration did not allow Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav to leave his Lucknow residence to stop him from entering Lakhimpur, 130 km away from the state capital, he ensured that a massive dharna was carried out by him and his cadre while sitting on the road outside his house that was covered widely with videos of the same disseminated prominently on social media platforms. Yadav reached Lakhmipur on 7 October.

It was the Congress, though, which is regarded as among the weakest among all the political rivals that the Yogi Adityanath government will face in the coming polls, which emerged as the number one among all the regional and national parties in the ranking of who built the maximum pressure on the state government on the issue.

The party employed both its top leaders—Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, who is in-charge of UP—apart from Chief Ministers of two states—Bhupesh Baghel (Chhattisgarh) and Charanjit Singh Channi (Punjab)—to handle this issue. While the state government initially arrested Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, later, all these leaders were allowed to go and visit the family members of the deceased in Lakhimpur on 6 October. The team also included party general secretary K.C. Venugopal and national media head Randeep Surjewala.

However, Mayawati—who has stated in the past that she is open to a tie-up even with the BJP to ensure the defeat of the Samajwadi Party—did not even try to give a political messaging of any sort that she wanted to go to Lakhimpur. Mayawati limited herself to Twitter to express her anger and protest against the incident, while stating that the state administration was not allowing party’s general secretary Satish Chandra Mishra to go to Lakhimpur. Mishra eventually reached Lakhimpur on 7 October.

In all, there were eight tweets shared from her Twitter handle on this issue till the evening of 7 October. “Mayawati and some prominent BJP leaders in the state believe that the BJP will need the support of other parties to form the government post the February polls. In this case, the best bet for the BJP to form the government would be the BSP and Mayawati which also explains why the central agencies have not disturbed her. If this situation arises, it is obvious that Yogi Adityanath will have to make way for a Dalit face,” a political commentator close to the present dispensation told The Sunday Guardian.

The Sunday Guardian reached out to two of three national spokesperson of the BSP on their response on the perception that the BSP was the hidden friend of BJP. No response was received till the time the story went to press.