Maya ambitions as PM 'not totally impossible'

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New Delhi, May 6: The proclaimed ambition of Ms Mayawati, the charismatic supremo of the Bahujan Samaj Party, to become the prime minister of the country ''is not totally impossible'', if her party is able to secure even 50-60 Lok Sabha seats ''in a hopelessly muddled post-Lok Sabha poll scenario,'' says a new book.

''...Mayawati would be a frontrunner for the prime minister's job if neither the UPA nor the NDA is in a position to form a government in the next Lok Sabha election,'' says the book, ''Behenji: A Political Biography of Mayawati'', written by noted journalist Ajay Bose. Mr Bose argues that it is not totally impossible in a muddled Lok Sabha poll scenario that she manages to get one side or the other to propose her as a compromise candidate to head the government.

''This may seem far-fetched and smack of political suicide by the Congress and the BJP, but stranger things have known to happen in politics,'' he says.

Expounding on his premise, Mr Bose says there is a big change in the perception of Ms Mayawati after her sweeping victory in the 2007 Uttar Pradesh assembly elections. The BSP's triumphant Dalit-Brahmin alliance, the mainstay of her social engineering, has overnight become a blueprint for electoral success across the country.

''The fact that neither the Congress nor the BJP has a clear prime ministerial candidate is in Mayawati's favour. She has an excellent personal rapport with Congres President Sonia Gandhi. The BSP leader is also a favourite of the Sangh Parivar, including powerful sections of the RSS, who are strong supporters of her Dalit-Brahmin alliance.'' Ms Mayawati herself is supremely focused to take the big leap forward. With characteristic candour she announced almost immediately after winning the Uttar Pradesh polls that her next challenge was to capture power at the Centre.

Long before the 2007 assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh, she had meticulously planned for each of the 400-odd assembly constituencies in the state. She is now doing a similar exercise for the 542 parliamentary constituencies which will be up for grabs in the Lok Sabha polls.

''These plans will naturally be of particular relevance in Uttar Pradesh where Mayawati hopes to win as many as 60 out of 80 seats.

She is planning to virtually obliterate the Congress and the BJP, and reduce Mr Mulayam Singh's Samajawadi Party to single digits in the next Lok Sabha,'' says the book.

Under normal circumstances, it would be ludicrous to suggest Ms Mayawati, who commands less than 20 seats in the Lok Sabha having 543 elected seats, can form the government in space of one general election, says the author. Even if the BSP were to more than double their present tally from Uttar Pradesh, getting a maximum of 50 seats, it will still fall short of securing a tenth of the elected Lower House.

If in addition, the party won 20 seats from other states -- a best-case scenario -- it would get a total of 70 seats. This will take the BSP to third position behind the Congress and the BJP.

''Obviously the next general elections need to usher in a period of considerable instability if Mayawati is to have a crack at the top job,'' says the book.

Mr Bose also points out that there is little scope for the BSP to add to its core Dalit vote, since this is already close to saturation -- close to 80 per cent.

''But the party should attract a much larger component of the poorer backward castes and Muslim votes, along with a substantial section of the Brahmin and Bania votes,'' he contends.

BSP election managers are, however, aware that they may need a larger percentage of votes in the next general elections, since politics in Uttar Pradesh is increasingly polarised between the BSP and the SP, which is also likely to receive the consolidated backing of its supporters.

''The real challenge for the BSP in the general elections will come in the adjoining states of Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Delhi, where the party needs to pick up seats if Mayawati is to make a serious bid for power after the next general elections,'' says the author, adding her return to power with a full majority in Uttar Pradesh will have an impact on these states.

Arguing that there would be a major consolidation of Dalits votes behind the BSP next time, he says it would be important to see whether the party is able to increase its votes from tribals and poor backward castes.

''It would also need to replicate the alliance with Brahmins beyond the borders of Uttar Pradesh. This will not be easy because Mayawati and the BSP are on a completely different level in Utar Pradesh compared to other states, where the party's winnability ratio is far less,'' says the noted political commentator, who has been associated with a wide range of media at home and abroad, including BBC, The Guardian, London and Time magazine.

Maharashtra is the only state outside north India where the BSP has a realistic chance of winning a few seats, and that too in some Dalit pockets of Vidarbha region.

''There is often a subterranean current in favour of a political leader or movement that is not fully visible on the surface. Mayawati comprehensively proved that in Uttar Pradesh. It is possible that she will do so again in a larger national arena. Certainly for a long time no other leader has been talked about with as much excitement and anticipation across social strata -- from upper class living rooms to working class slums.'' Mr Bose argues that even if Ms Mayawati were not to make it as prime minister after the coming Lok Sabha polls, she would remain a strong contender for the post in future electoral battles.

''With a secure bastion in the country's largest state and an emotional estranglehold over a countrywide group like the Dalits, she has extremely strong political cards to play in an increasingly fractured polity. It is perhaps just a matter of time before she does become the prime minister of the country,'' says the book.

UNI

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