Lucknow/New Delhi: Dealing a body blow to the Congress and the entire concept of Opposition unity, BSP supremo Mayawati on Wednesday declared that she would not align with the Congress in the coming Assembly polls in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, and singled out former MP chief minister and senior Congress leader Digvijay Singh for working against a Congress-BJP alliance.
While saying that Sonia and Rahul Gandhi were keen to have a tieup with the BSP, Ms Mayawati accused Mr Singh of “being a BJP agent, who is working against a Congress-BSP alliance”.
The Congress swung into firefighting mode, saying Ms Mayawati had made it clear that she “respects” Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi, and said any other differences could be sorted out. “BSP chief Mayawati has expressed mutual respect for Congress president Rahul Gandhi and former chief Sonia Gandhi. The creases can be ironed out,” Congress chief spokesman Randeep Singh Surjewala said in New Delhi.
It might be recalled Ms Mayawati has already announced a tieup with Ajit Jogi’s Janata Congress in Chhattisgarh and had declared a list of 22 candidates for the Madhya Pradesh elections.
Though officially the Congress put its chin up, sources said the BSP chief had been asking for at least 50 seats in Madhya Pradesh and a seat-sharing pact in Rajasthan, on which the larger party was in no mood to relent.
Launching a blistering attack on the Congress, the BSP supremo termed senior Congress leader Digvijay Singh a “BJP agent”. She added: “The Congress, like the BJP, is conspiring to finish off the BSP.”
In a statement to a news agency, Ms Mayawati blamed Mr Digvijay Singh for scuttling the alliance. Referring to an interview given by Mr Singh in which he claimed that Ms Mayawati was being pressured by the Centre not to enter the alliance, the BSP chief said it was the former Madhya Pradesh chief minister who was working under BJP pressure.
“It was Digvijay Singh who helped the BJP form the government in Goa,” she said, adding: “In fact, it is Digvijay Singh who is afraid of agencies like the CBI and the ED.”
She vehemently denied that she was under any kind of pressure from the BJP and said instead of succumbing to such pressure, she had chosen to resign from the chief minister’s post in 2003 and then from the Rajya Sabha in 2017.
The former UP chief minister accused the Congress of remaining “arrogant” despite repeated failures and said it was a case of “rassi jal gayi, aithan nahin gayi”. She said that instead of finishing the BJP, Congress leaders were more interested in finishing the non-BJP parties.
“The Congress is under the misconception that it can defeat the BJP on its own, but it does not realise that whenever there has been a straight fight between the BJP and the Congress, the BJP has scored. The ground reality is that people have still not forgiven the Congress for its mistakes and corruption. The Congress does not seem to be in a mood to rectify its mistakes and improve itself,” she stated.
However, the BSP president had a word of praise for Mrs Sonia Gandhi and Congress president Rahul Gandhi. “I feel Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi are honest and have well-meaning intentions about a Congress-BSP alliance but some of their own leaders are sabotaging this,” she said.
This word of praise for the Congress high command indicates that the BSP chief is not completely shutting the door on the Congress.
Ms Mayawati made it clear that she had called off the alliance because she was not getting sufficient seats in Rajasthan and MP. She did not say that she would continue this stand in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
Taking a swipe at the Congress, the BJP said that forging a coalition was not in its DNA and it only gives importance to the Gandhi family. After the BSP supremo called off alliance talks with the Opposition party, senior Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said: “With whom the Congress allies is entirely their business, but in light of the concerns and pain of Mayawati, I can only say that coalition is not a part of the Congress DNA. They only give importance to the family.” Reacting to the issue, a BJP general secretary tweeted: “Mahagathbandhan (grand alliance) in ‘progress’. First AAP and now BSP calling the bluff. Mayawati says Congress arrogant, a new revelation for her, and declares no alliance in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan too. Chhattisgarh already dumped.”