Lucknow, April 19
"I had announced this during a press conference in New Delhi on January 7. Now, this is the final warning. After waiting for a few months, I would send a letter of withdrawal of support to the UPA chairperson and the President of India", Mayawati said here today.
While ostensibly the central government's refusal to grant special package to her state and rising prices was cited as the likely reason for the BSP formally withdrawing support from the UPA a few months down the road, however, from the tenor of her statement, it was abundantly clear that she was irked by Rahul Gandhi's taking up the issue of Dalits and development in Bundelkhand in particular, and Uttar Pradesh in general.
Speaking to mediapersons at her official 5 Kalidas Road residence, she hit out at AICC general secretary Rahul Gandhi for indulging in “seemit aur sankirn rajniti (narrow and petty politics).”
The diatribe came a day after Rahul staged a dharna along with hundreds of villagers in front of the office of Jhansi divisional commissioner after he refused to allow Rahul to meet him on a prior appointment along with villagers.
When pressure mounted with the dharna, a red-faced district administration gave in and commissioner P.V. Jaganmohan finally met him and heard out the villagers' complaints regarding the non-implementation of various government schemes.
Asking the young MP, whom she has christened ‘Congress ka Yuvraj’, to desist from "kism kism ki natakbaazi" (all sorts of antics), Mayawati said instead he should adopt a constructive approach and help her government get the much-needed special package by pleading the state's case before the central government.
Holding the long rule of the Congress in the state for the cumulative neglect of the Bundelkhand region, she declared that now the Congress-led UPA government was even denying the Rs 80,000-crore special package, with which she wanted to remove these regional imbalances in Purvanchal and Bundelkhand and focus on other infrastructure problems of the state.
Cong cool to Maya’s threat
New Delhi, April 19
Mayawati today stepped up her attack against the government at the Centre and Amethi MP Rahul Gandhi after he staged a dharna in Jhansi yesterday to protest the poor implementation of the rural job guarantee scheme in the Bundelkhand region.
This is the third time in the past several months that the BSP chief has put the UPA government on notice. It is also not the first time that she has hit out at the Nehru-Gandhi scion personally. Only recently, she had declared that each time Rahul spent a night with a Dalit family, he bathed with a special soap.
Playing down the UP Chief Minister’s latest threat, Congress spokesperson Veerappa Moily remarked that Mayawati was an important leader and would act responsibly. “We have a lot of respect for her ...we know that finally she will take a political decision not a personal one,” he maintained, adding that there was no need to get excited about Mayawati’s ultimatum. According to him, it is only a “reflection” on her part and not a final decision.
As for the UP Chief Minister’s remarks about Rahul Gandhi’s dharna, Moily said as an MP from that state, he had every right to represent to the local administration about the grievances of the people. “Instead of getting angry, Mayawati should try to find out where the problem is and resolve it,” he said.
The Congress spokesperson also did not take kindly to Mayawati’s demand for a Rs.80,000-crore package for Uttar Pradesh from the Centre. Moily said instead of petitioning the Prime Minister, the right forum for her to represent this case is the Planning Commission and the Finance Commission. Unless there is an exceptional case like a natural disaster, the Prime Minister cannot give this kind of money to one state alone, he explained.
While the Congress has chosen not to make much of Mayawati’s threats, its senior leaders are both surprised at her constant barbs against Rahul Gandhi given that the grand old party is only a bit player in Uttar Pradesh whereas the BSP is continuing with its forward march as proved by the recent bypoll.
Nevertheless, the Congress is not unhappy with Mayawati’s response to Rahul Gandhi’s periodic forays into Uttar Pradesh. The Congress believes that by targeting the Amethi MP, the BSP chief is not only giving their party greater legitimacy but also putting it in the slot of a main opposition party. In a conscious move to dent the BSP’s Dalit vote bank, Rahul Gandhi has been interacting with Dalits during his tours in Uttar Pradesh and other states and has also been staying overnight with Dalit families as part of this effort.
Relations between the Congress and the BSP have soured ever since the former realised that the Dalit outfit has the potential to hurt its electoral prospects outside Uttar Pradesh by eroding the Congress’ traditional scheduled caste vote bank. The two parties have been sniping at each other while relations between the Congress and the Samajwadi Party appear to be looking up.