RJD chief Lalu Prasad offered to send Mayawati to the Rajya Sabha from Bihar, the day she resigned over violence against Dalits in Saharanpur, Uttar Pradesh
New Delhi: Having resigned from the Rajya Sabha last month, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati is losing political ground and is left with few options to make a political comeback.
Mayawati, whose term in the upper house was due to end next April, resigned on 18 July after deputy chairman P.J. Kurien refused to allow the former Uttar Pradesh chief minister to make an impromptu speech on the issue of violence against Dalits in Saharanpur, Uttar Pradesh.
Three consecutive defeats—the 2012 and 2017 Uttar Pradesh assembly elections and the 2014 Lok Sabha election—have reduced the BSP to just 19 seats in the 403-member state assembly, while the party has no representation in the Lok Sabha. In this scenario, Mayawati’s Rajya Sabha seat—the BSP has five more seats in the upper house of Parliament—is the only platform she had to address the public at the national level.
Given the party’s paltry strength in the state assembly, it is impossible for Mayawati to be elected to the Rajya Sabha from Uttar Pradesh on her own. The party is therefore exploring other options to bring their chief back to Parliament.
The first option is to accept an offer extended by Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Prasad to send Mayawati to the Rajya Sabha from Bihar. The former Bihar chief minister extended his support to Mayawati the day she submitted her resignation.
“Spoke with Mayawatiji at length. Offered and requested her to be Rajya Sabha MP from Bihar to fight against atrocities and divisive agenda of BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party)," Lalu wrote on Twitter on 18 July.
With 80 seats in the 243-member Bihar legislative assembly and with six of the 16 Rajya Sabha MPs from Bihar retiring in April 2018, Mayawati could secure a seat with the help of the RJD.
Another speculation doing the rounds is over Mayawati possibly contesting the Lok Sabha seat from Phulpur which will fall vacant once Uttar Pradesh deputy chief minister Keshav Prasad Maurya resigns from the lower house of Parliament.
BSP leaders say that even though the Dalit leader does not want to rush into taking a decision, the option of going with the RJD seems more viable.
“Even when Behenji (Mayawati) had not resigned, the party was considering the possibility of seeking the support of RJD to get her re-elected to the Rajya Sabha. Moreover, with talk of a grand alliance for the 2019 Lok Sabha election going on, it only makes sense to do so. However, a final decision is yet to be taken," said a BSP leader from Lucknow who did not wish to be named.
Analysts say that with a shrinking political footprint, Mayawati’s resignation might cost her if she does not take a decision soon.
“The resignation itself was made to gain public sympathy and show that she cares about the Dalit cause. However with the fast dwindling Dalit support base, Mayawati needs to work on party outreach. For this, she has to have a public platform in the form of a Lok Sabha or Rajya Sabha seat given that the next UP assembly election will only happen after five years," said S.K. Dwivedi, a political analyst and professor of political science, Lucknow University.
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