Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) leader Sudhindra Bhadoria, in an interview to Firstpost, said that Mayawati is a credible Dalit face for the office of prime minister. He also said that Congress president Rahul Gandhi has to wait because he is yet to prove his mettle as a leader.
Bhadoria, the sole authorised spokesperson of the party, expressed confidence that the grand alliance will project the BSP supremo as its prime ministerial candidate ahead of the 2019 election.
Do you think Mayawati can be the prime ministerial face for the proposed grand alliance (mahagathbandhan) against Prime Minister Narendra Modi, as former Chhattisgarh chief minister Ajit Jogi recently mentioned?
Yes, Mayawati ji has all the qualities to be the prime ministerial face in 2019. She is the foremost leader and the most credible face of the Dalits, OBCs and the poor in the country. For three-and-a-half decades, she has been at the forefront of the movement for the empowerment of this section. She has a proven track record as an efficient administrator, who handled the law and order situation in Uttar Pradesh with an iron fist. She has been Uttar Pradesh's chief minister for four terms and a member of Rajya Sabha. During her tenure, the state had registered a growth rate of 9 percent, as compared to 3.5 percent earlier. Apart from Ajit Jogi, Om Prakash Chautala and HD Kumaraswamy have also pitched for her as the prime ministerial face in 2019.
What is your view about the possibility that a unilateral announcement of Mayawati as the prime ministerial face for 2019 may leave other aspirants unhappy, and the grand coalition fragile?
It won’t be a unilateral decision, as all the Opposition parties will join hands to make her the prime ministerial candidate. India has got prime ministers from every community. It is the Dalit community that has faced oppression and neglect for decades. For instance, Babu Jagjivan Ram, despite being a tall leader in the Congress, was denied the opportunity of being the prime minister. So, why not a prime minister from this community? This time, the Opposition parties should show magnanimity by providing this opportunity to the ‘Dalit beti’ Mayawati ji.
Is the grand coalition dead before take-off? The Opposition parties appear confused...
The 2019 election will be a test for Narendra Modi and the BJP, on whether they could fulfill the promises they made to the electorate in 2014. People will find that they have been cheated on almost all fronts — including promises to provide 10 crore jobs in five years, depositing Rs 15 lakh in each bank account, as also the failure on the domestic and foreign policy fronts, and the BJP’s divisive agenda that has hurt our social fabric. Demonetisation and rising fuel prices have had a cascading effect on our economy and employment generation. The credibility of institutions like the CBI has been undermined. Our constitutional and democratic system is under threat.
All these issues will bring non-BJP Opposition parties, including regional parties together. People will vote for the best alternative. Mayawati ji, even without having made any announcement about the formation of any coalition, has already stitched alliances in states. Time will tell how things shape up in 2019.
Why are many non-BJP political parties not ready to accept Rahul Gandhi as the coalition leader or the prime ministerial candidate for 2019, although several of these parties had accepted Sonia Gandhi?
The prime minister of a nation has a huge responsibility. From Jawaharlal Nehru to Modi, all those who have been elected to the post of prime minister have shown administrative capabilities and rich political experience. Neither does Rahul Gandhi have any administrative experience, nor has he delivered anything till date. Even within the Congress party, senior leaders like P Chidambaram and Salman Khurshid have admitted that Rahul is not the party’s prime ministerial face. He needs to wait and prove his mettle, till the Congress gains strength of its own to form the government. The 2019 election will pose a big challenge to all parties, and they will need a credible face for the post of prime minister. Dynasty alone will not help a person become the prime minister.
What would be the best case scenario regarding distribution of seats, according to the BSP?
BSP is the third largest party in terms of vote share and has a presence in 50 percent of the states in the country. Any political party that wants to enter into an alliance needs to recognise the rising Dalit and OBC consciousness in the country. A respectable political space has to be provided to the BSP.
Do you expect the Congress to sacrifice seats where it is strong to pacify future allies? Isn't it against its own interests, as the examples of Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh show?
See, the Congress must give space to other parties. While entering into an alliance, they should rise above their old feudal mindset. If they are thinking about their own space, they need to do so for others as well. Take the case of the Uttar Pradesh election, in which the Congress contested in 100 seats without having the strength to do so. What was the outcome? Even in the Gorakhpur and Phulpur by-elections this year — which are the constituencies of Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath and deputy chief minister Keshav Prasad Maurya — the BSP-SP alliance won, and not the BJP or Congress. The BSP has been working on its strength and core constituency.
We have one MLA in Chhattisgarh and four in Madhya Pradesh respectively, with a good vote share. In Madhya Pradesh, we are trying to bring smaller regional parties like the Gondwana Gantantra Party under a third-front umbrella. Wherever we enter into an alliance, we will replicate the model we had in Karnataka and Haryana. In Chhattisgarh, we have successfully got into an alliance with Janata Congress Chhattisgarh. Alliances for 2019 will be forged in a smooth manner. We will cross the bridge when we come to it.
How do you expect to perform in the Chhattisgarh Assembly election after entering into an alliance with the Janata Congress Chhattisgarh?
The population in Chhattisgarh is dominated by SCs, STs and OBCs. Ajit Jogi has a strong influence among the adivasis. This led to the BSP-Janata Congress Chhattisgarh alliance. Mayawati ji has already announced that Jogi will be the chief ministerial face, as he has a strong recall value. The Congress anyway does not have any strong face to project as chief ministerial candidate. The present chief minister Raman Singh has been facing strong anti-incumbency. We stand a good chance to sail through and form the government.
Finally, will the BSP, along with other parties in the Opposition, be able to take on the BJP in 2019?
Besides the BSP’s own strength, secular and democratic forces will support Mayawati ji in the 2019 Lok Sabha election.
Updated Date: Oct 25, 2018 22:00 PM