Sunday, Jul 07, 2002
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A BASIC qualitative change has taken place in Uttar Pradesh politics with the BJP deciding to play second fiddle to the Bahujan Samaj Party for survival. This is the second time the two parties have come together to form a coalition Government in the State. While the BJP was in a position to dictate terms the last time, this time it has joined hands with the Chief Minister, Mayawati, because of political compulsions.
And, the BSP leader has stressed that the BJP had no other option under the present circumstances but to support a Government led by her. Had the BJP decided otherwise, fresh elections would have become necessary and would have, she believes, led to the complete rout of the saffron forces in the State.
The BJP's surrender of its political interests to the BSP thus amounts to a recognition by its national leadership that a revival of the saffron forces is impossible in the country's most populous State in the near future. Those who differed with the high command on the support to Ms. Mayawati were told to keep their views to themselves.
The resignation of Kalraj Mishra as State BJP president and the eclipsing of the former Chief Minister, Rajnath Singh, are the consequential manifestations of the changes that have started taking place in the BJP. The two leaders, who were reluctant to support the idea of a coalition with the BSP, were asked to fall in line with the decision to support a BSP-led Government.
The State's Minister for Urban Development, Lalji Tandon, and Shiv Kumar, a personal confidant of the Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee, have emerged as the two most powerful centres of political command in Uttar Pradesh. Mr. Tandon has the additional advantage of being close to Ms. Mayawati and the authorisation to nurture Mr. Vajpayee's parliamentary constituency. While the BJP has almost become a replica of the Congress of yore with a totally personalised style of politics, Ms. Mayawati has gone overboard in trying to fulfil her political agenda. She has begun taking important decisions to serve her Dalit constituency even if means hurting the BJP's interests. Many in the BJP feel she has been making overt attempts to expose the hollowness of the BJP's governance during its tenure. She has given enough indications that she would not bend an inch to accommodate the BJP's interests, if it means compromising on her own political interests.
The murmurs in the BJP suggest that ordinary workers and legislators are frustrated with the goings on. Ms. Mayawati does not allow them any say in administrative matters and they are not permitted to raise their voices against the rough treatment meted out. A few BJP Ministers led by Mr. Tandon, who have been allowed to enjoy the power and perks of office, seem to be the only beneficiaries.
Analysts feel the growing frustration in the BJP ranks could ultimately result in breaking of the coalition itself. The Vajpayee establishment may benefit from the alliance with the BSP but the BJP will suffer.
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