Maya's elephant tramples coalition politics in UP

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Lucknow, Dec 24: Year 2007 saw the end of 15 years of coalition politics in Uttar Pradesh with the Bahujan Samaj Party etstablishing a majority government here.

It was in 1991 when the state, which sends 80 MPs to the Lok Sabha, last saw a majority government, followed by a series of coalition governments and unstable polity over one-and-a-half decade.

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister and BSP leader Mayawati, in fact, created a record of sorts by leading the state for the fourth time, adding a unique feature of stitching a rainbow political arrangement with Brahmins in forming the government in the state.

The 51-year-old Dalit leader unseated her bete noire Mulayam Singh Yadav and also dashed off the BJP's hopes of building on its string of victories in Punjab, Uttarakhand and Mumbai Corporation early this year.

The Congress, on the other hand, received a major set-back in the assembly polls, even after war footing electioneering by its star campaigners. For this purpose, Rahul Gandhi, party's trump card, was made the General Secretary giving him full power to revamp the Congress in Uttar Pradesh before the crucial Lok Sabha polls.

The Congress which had won 25 seats in 2002 assembly polls could only manage ten seats in the 2007 polls.

The inner bickerings of the BJP in Uttar Pradesh again hit the headlines with its leaders openly revolting against party president Rajnath Singh.

Former BJP Rajya Sabha member Rajnath Singh Surya also created a ruckus after Pankaj Singh, son of the party president, was made the State Youth Wing president. Following this, party leaders had to withdraw Pankaj's name from the post. Mr Surya later announced to support the Samajwadi Party candidate in the Ballia Lok Sabha by-polls.

The relationship between the government and the Raj Bhawan, which was at its low during the previous Mulayam Singh Yadav regime, was revived by the BSP government with both governor T V Rajeswar and Chief Minister Mayawati appreciating each other on different occassion.

But critical statements by the Governor on the functioning of the state government at the end of the year once again projected the possible tussle between the duo.

Similalry, the confrontation between the Centre and the state still continues with Mayawati blaming the Centre for 'each and every' crisis in the state including power, fertilizers, development and others. Even after the state placed its demand for more than Rs one lakh crore special package for development in different sectors, the Centre was yet to respond, which might snowball in the coming year.

Meanwhile, Ms Mayawati, after a landslide victory in Uttar Pradesh had now embarked upon to gain political mileage in other states.

However, forming a majority government with the help of upper caste Brahmins left all the political parties in a state of shock as they had to go on the backfoot in search of new strategies for the coming Lok Sabha polls.

The Dalit-Brahmin combine which worked in favour of the BSP was a formula every party would find hard to decode even as party president Mayawati has not kept her desire a secret to don the top executive post of the country.

The BSP, which always campaigned on an anti-upper caste plank in its two decades of electoral politics, fought the polls this time without any allies and achieved rare success. Changing her strategy for the party's good, Ms Mayawati had given ticket to 138 upper caste candidates, including 86 Brahmins and a large number of Muslims and OBCs, besides 93 Dalits, thereby dishing out an absolutely new political recipe.

It was for the first time that the BSP, an avowed Dalit outfit, changed its ideology and declared its transformation from a party which catered to only 'Bahujan Samaj' to a political protagonist of 'Sarva Samaj'.

The Congress, however, differs with Ms Mayawati's claim and ridicules it as a 'pipe dream'.

''It is just a wishful thinking of Mayawati to aspire for the post of Prime Minister as the minimum requisite for it is the countrywide organisation of the party which the BSP does not have,'' Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee President Rita Bahuguna Joshi said in reply to a query.

She also challenged the claim of the BSP over Brahmin support saying it was a misplaced conception that the experiment would continue to work in the Lok Sabha polls as well.

''In the last assembly polls the Brahmin votes were garnered by the BSP in only those constituencies where the candidates were Brahmins,'' she told UNI

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