National

Mayawati may fight as Opposition candidate

Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) supremo Mayawati, whose resignation from the Rajya Sabha was accepted on Thursday by Chairman Hamid Ansari, is likely to contest the Phulpur Lok Sabha seat that has fallen vacant after Keshav Prasad Maurya became Deputy Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh.

On Thursday, talk began in Opposition circles about fielding her as a joint candidate in Phulpur, as part of a political experiment ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections to forge a grand coalition of the Samajwadi Party, the BSP and the Congress in Uttar Pradesh.

In 1988, when the Allahabad LS seat fell vacant after Amitabh Bachchan was forced to step down as MP over the Bofors case, V.P. Singh who had left the Congress contested as the joint Opposition candidate against Sunil Shastri.

Singh’s victory was seen at the time as a defining moment in the lead-up to the defeat of the Congress in the 1989 Lok Sabha elections.

BSP sources said that if Ms. Mayawati did become the joint Opposition candidate with the SP and the Congress backing her, and RJD leader Lalu Prasad and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, too, backed her, she had a fair chance of winning the seat. Phulpur has a substantial number of Muslim and Dalit voters. Given the current mood in the country, a joint Opposition candidate could hope to win most of these voter segments, the party feels.

In any case, Ms. Mayawati has resigned from the Rajya Sabha, accusing the BJP and the Chair of not allowing her to raise the issue of anti-Dalit violence in U.P. This is already resonating on Dalit websites and Twitter accounts. A victory in Phulpur would not just help to resurrect Ms. Mayawati’s sagging career, but come as a big boost to the Opposition that is working to unite as many parties as possible to take on the challenge of the BJP.

This also comes in the wake of Mr. Lalu Prasad announcing in May that he would hold a joint rally to be addressed by leaders of key national and regional Opposition parties in Patna on August 27. The SP national president Akhilesh Yadav has confirmed that he and Ms. Mayawati would be present at the rally.

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Printable version | Sep 23, 2020 1:31:46 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/mayawati-may-fight-as-opposition-candidate/article19319974.ece

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