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Mayawati blasts Congress, BJP but keeps her options open

PATNA, FEB. 26. Even as she blew hot and cold at both the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party, the Bahujan Samaj Party leader and former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister, Mayawati, stressed that she has kept her options open regarding alliance for the coming Lok Sabha elections.

Addressing a rally for almost two hours here today, she was unsparing in attacking the two parties, accusing them of being "manuwadi." Yet, at the fag end of her speech, she underlined her willingness to join forces with them for the benefit of the "Bahujan Samaj." Ms. Mayawati called upon the people to "avenge" what she called "insult" heaped on the father of the Constitution, B.R. Ambedkar, by the Congress by not allowing him to enter the Lok Sabha in 1952. "You should teach the `manuwadi' Congress a lesson and prevent it from coming to power." Referring to the BJP, Ms. Mayawati dared the Centre to carry out its threat to arrest her in connection with the Taj Heritage Corridor case. "Like [Nelson] Mandela who served 27 years in prison, I am prepared to go to jail for life, but these people will not be able to break my nerve or diminish my desire to fight for justice for the poor and the neglected," she said.

She charged the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance Government at the Centre with "misusing" the Central Bureau of Investigation to bring pressure on her. "When I realised their conspiracy, I resigned. I was not removed as Chief Minister," she told the gathering.

Accusing the NDA of trying to "bully" her into joining the ruling alliance by using the Taj case, Ms. Mayawati said she was not the one to be cowed down by such pressure. "The BJP-led NDA tried to cow me down by using the Taj Heritage Corridor case and the manuwadi media did the Government's bidding," she said.

The downtrodden were at the receiving end under the NDA Government and that the "feel-good" factor was limited to the "manuwadis," she said and criticised the BJP for roping in "retired" Bollywood stars to attract people who were otherwise disillusioned with the NDA.

She claimed that the BJP and the Congress were desperate to fight the elections in alliance with the BSP as they were not in a position to secure a majority in the Lok Sabha on their own.

She had resolved "not to fall into the trap of the fronts floated by these two parties."

Ms. Mayawati said she would take a final decision on alliance only after receiving reports from the State units of her party. Any alliance had to be reciprocal and to the benefit of both and not just one-sided. The prime consideration would be whether they were in a position to transfer their votes to the BSP. "If not, we will not ally with anyone and will fight the elections on our own."

She appealed to Bhumihars and Rajputs "not to play into the hands of Brahmins and Banias."