BSP's taunts at Sheila Dikshit may be motivated by disenchantment over Priyanka Gandhi's 'courtesy' call to Bhim Army chief

BSP spokesperson Sudhindra Bhadoria on Thursday posted two sarcastic tweets targeting Congress leader Sheila Dikshit. These would otherwise have been passed off as political counterpoints. However, the tweets had several connotations, as they came a day after Priyanka Gandhi and Jyotiraditya Scindia met Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad, who is in custody and in a Meerut hospital.

Bhadoria made a reference to Dikshit's remarks about Manmohan Singh in which she had purportedly said that the former prime minister “was not as strong and as determined as Modi is” in dealing with terrorism. Bhadoria, in a blistering attack on the Congress, remarked, "The Congress itself is determined to campaign for the BJP."

In another tweet, he referred to Amit Shah's statement "thanking" Dikshit for her statement, and asked, "What's cooking between the Congress and BJP? Amit Shah and Sheila Dikshit are praising each other; something must be fishy."

BSPs taunts at Sheila Dikshit may be motivated by disenchantment over Priyanka Gandhis courtesy call to Bhim Army chief

Priyanka Gandhi visits Chandrashekhar Azad at a Meerut hospital. PTI

While Bhadoria's Twitter account says that his "views expressed are personal," sources in the BSP said he could not have made statements on such a sensitive issue without approval or prompting from the party leadership. Dikshit is no ordinary Congress leader. She had been Delhi’s chief minister for 15 years, and the Congress’ chief ministerial candidate for Uttar Pradesh in the early days of the 2017 Assembly election campaign. She is now the Delhi Congress president, and enjoys the confidence of the Gandhi family. Therefore, it is anybody's guess as to who the target of the BSP leader's statement is.

BSP leaders are deeply aggrieved over Priyanka having travelled to Meerut to meet Chandrashekher Azad (aka Ravan). They believe that by doing so, she was trying to find an antidote to the BSP and Mayawati, and cut into Dalit votes. The Bhim Army chief’s aggressiveness has created a sizeable following for him among the Dalit community, particularly the youth.

Although both Priyanka and Azad called it a courtesy call, in politics, such courtesies are not without purpose. There are numerous examples to suggest that such "courtesies" have resulted in alignments and realignments, and the fall and formation of governments. In 1999, a courtesy meet between Sonia Gandhi and Jayalalithaa at a tea party brought down the Vajpayee government. In 2004, a courtesy call by Sonia Gandhi to Ram Vilas Paswan brought the latter into the UPA fold. A courtesy meet between Hardik Patel and Rahul Gandhi ended up with the former joining the Congress. The list can go on.

It is generally understood that such courtesy calls in politics don’t happen abruptly; they take place after back room channels have done the homework required. In this case, the newly-appointed general secretary in-charge of Eastern Uttar Pradesh travelled to the hospital in Meerut (which is in western Uttar Pradesh) to meet the Bhim Army chief. This happened at a time when the Congress, after being snubbed by the SP-BSP-RLD alliance, is desperately looking for alliances with small caste-based parties and players.

In politics, alliances are of two kinds — overt and tacit.

It should also be noted that Priyanka met Azad, whose opinions on various issues are a bit on the radical side, only two days after the BSP chief delivered the final snub to the Congress, shutting the door for alliances with the latter in Uttar Pradesh and in any other state where there may have been such possibilities.

Azad has expressed his desire to contest from Varanasi against Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and against the SP-BSP candidate. It would be interesting to see whether the Congress supports him by not putting up its own candidate.

Though the BSP leaders exude confidence that any Congress-Bhim Army understanding, overt or tacit, will not have any bearing on Mayawati’s proven influence over the Dalit community in general and the Jatavas in particular, they are not hiding their anguish.

Mayawati has not taken it kindly. A BSP leader said to Firstpost, “Congress ne ye kar ke bahut bada bayana mol liya hai (By doing this, the Congress has taken on a big challenge).” This colloquial saying is used in a negative sense about a rival who tries to take up major tasks without realising the consequences they may have to face.

 

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Updated Date: Mar 15, 2019 21:48:07 IST

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