On Friday, Dalit leader Mayawati surprised many with her statement that Narendra Modi should have tried out his political might in Amethi "since he is a prime ministerial candidate like Rahul Gandhi". The next day, BSP watchers were even more intrigued as she slammed Baba Ramdev for his particularly offensive remarks against Rahul Gandhi.
In a new set of political tactics, Mayawati seems to be resorting to a rather desperate gambit to be seen closer to the Congress and under the UPA umbrella for fear of being identified with the BJP or NDA. "She has suddenly dropped her severe stance against the Congress. Her non-BJP non-Congress equilibrium has been disturbed by immediate electoral concerns," says veteran political analyst JP Shukla.
On Saturday, Mayawati was breathing fire as she attacked Ramdev with her verbal mortar in reaction to the "so-called" Baba's statement that Rahul had been visiting Dalit villages for picnics and honeymoons. "The Election Commission should register an FIR against this Baba and send him to jail under the SC/ST Act and the new law for crime against women," she said, threatening to launch a countrywide agitation on the "insult to Dalits" after the election if no action was taken against him.
Those in the know of things say it's not so much about the "insult to Dalits" or the use of indiscreet language on the part of the Baba, but political compulsion that has forced Mayawati to bat for Rahul. "Mayawati knows that she has lost a sizeable part of her Dalit votebank to the BJP in UP. She wants to set off the loss by ensuring that she gets the Muslim votes in the remaining electoral rounds," says Hisamul Islam Siddiqui, veteran Urdu journalist and editor.
In the wake of the Muzaffarnagar riots, the BSP was seen as a strong alternative among the Muslims wherever Congress candidates were unable to abate the Modi wave. However, as the election progressed, there were media reports as well as a buzz within the minority community about the Dalit leader's opportunistic politics in the past. "People have not forgotten that she campaigned for Modi in 2002 even after the Godhra riots, or that she became UP Chief Minister thrice with the help of the BJP," says Maulana Yasoob Abbas, a prominent Shia cleric.
So, it is not without reason that Mayawati's anti-Modi pitch has suddenly become shriller while the non-performance of the UPA finds a passing mention in her speeches now. "The country will be gripped by communal frenzy and riots if Modi comes to power," she said at a rally in Buxar (Bihar). She also doesn't forget to point out that it was the BJP-led regime which set the CBI on her heels in the disproportionate assets case.
For the time being, Mayawati is attacking the Modi brigade left, right and centre even at the cost of being seen as pro-Congress. For once, she seems to be fighting for breath, caught, perhaps, in a mesh of her own making.