Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati may have bailed out the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government last month when it faced a slew of hostile cut motions to the Finance Bill. But on Saturday, when the UPA completes the first year of its second term, sources said, she is unlikely to make it to the celebratory dinner that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will be hosting at 7, Race Course Road.
It is because Ms. Mayawati, who celebrated three years in office on May 12, will be overseeing Jan Chetna Diwas in the State, with rallies at every district headquarters, denouncing the UPA's “stepmotherly treatment” of the State.
Indeed, ever since Ms. Mayawati's Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) put its weight behind the UPA during the voting on the Finance Bill, there has been concern in the Congress, that the cooperation on the floor of the Lok Sabha might send the wrong signal to its constituents in the State, especially to the Dalits and Muslims it is hoping to wean away from the BSP fold.
The party, which had actually won one more seat than the BSP in U.P. in the Lok Sabha elections in 2009, is hoping to repeat that performance in the Assembly polls due in 2012.
To “correct” the picture, therefore, on May 18, Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi scotched rumours of a possible tie-up with the BSP while addressing a rally in Mirzapur district: he said the ruling BSP would taste defeat at the hands of his party in 2012.
On the same day, his mother, Congress president Sonia Gandhi, too, lashed out at the Mayawati government for the lack of development in the State, while addressing a rally in her constituency, Rae Bareli.
Clearly, both parties are keen to distance themselves from each other in the run-up to the Assembly polls in 2012.
Meanwhile, Ms. Mayawati's other rival, Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh, who, too, voted with the government, will not be attending Saturday's dinner either. But he has sent a polite letter to the Prime Minister, regretting his inability to attend the dinner as it coincides with the start of his party's national executive meeting in Kolkata, while extending his “best wishes” for the future.