The BSP-BJP Joint Venture in UP

Nobody had really expected Mayawati to issue a fresh notification to set up a special court in Lucknow for the trial of Advani, Joshi and Uma Bharti. Over the last one decade Mayawati has time and again demonstrated that she is capable of stooping to any level of opportunism to secure her chief ministerial chair. It was therefore unthinkable that she would put her coveted chair at stake by embarrassing the very party with whose blessing she is running the show in Lucknow. What may have surprised political watchers and especially those who still have illusions about the BSP is the kind of arguments she dished out in support of her decision not to issue a notification.

Mayawati said the CBI was free to pursue the case in a regular court. The CBI has of course never shown any interest in proceeding with the case which involves none other than the Union Home Minister. So much for the myth of the CBI’s autonomy. It is precisely for this reason that democratic forces have been insisting on the resignation of the three concerned ministers. But Mayawati did not stop merely at taking this potshot at the smokescreen of the ‘autonomy’ of CBI. She also rejected the idea of a special court for such trials as she apparently believed that ordinary courts were sufficient for every one ‘big or small’. And then she also argued that since the case was a decade old there was no justification for issuing any notification now! For Mayawati, the demolition of Babri Masjid has thus become a clear non-issue. In fact, she gave a clean chit to the BJP by holding the Congress and the samajwadi party primarily responsible for the all the ‘trouble’.

Indeed Mayawati had aleady thrown ample hint when just a week after being sworn in as UP Chief Minister for the third time she had ordered the unprecedented crackdown on the May 10-11 Shaheed Mela to commemorate the 145th anniversary of the great rebellion of 1857. One of the BSP’s main slogans in the UP election (intended primarily for the BJP’s social base, it would seem) was to sell Maywati as a compulsion of UP politics (UP ki mazboori hai, Mayawati zaroori hai). The course that Mayawati has chosen, however, increasingly seems to be one of strategic choice rather than sheer tactical compulsion. She is clearly in a mood to cement the BSP-BJP alliance as a stable and long-term arrangement in UP politics and probably also in national politics. On September 28, Advani is slated to address the BSP’s ‘Dhikkar Rally’ in Lucknow as the chief guest. Mayawati’s terms for this strategic alliance are still not fully clear, but she has already made it more than clear that she has no scruples about endorsing the saffron agenda whether in Gujarat or at Ayodhya.

Close on the heels of the Supreme Court’s verdict on the changes in the NCERT curriculum, Mayawati’s announcement has come as a big legal relief for the BJP. In fact, the BJP is celebrating it as a vindication of the BJP’s agenda. We have seen Vajpayee bare his saffron soul once again before his NRI audience saying saffron was the colour of Indian culture and saffronisation of education only meant basing education on a strong cultural foundation! What value is that education which is divorced from culture, he wondered. And now hordes of BJP-VHP-Bajrang Dal activists are bent upon celebrating that culture again in UP. Inaugurating the BJP’s ‘jan jagaran abhiyan’ (mass awakening campaign) in Varanasi, Venkaiah Naidu reiterated the BJP’s commitment to the Ayodhya issue while Vinay Katiar, the state BJP chief threatened to repeat Ayodhya at Kashi and Mathura.

The battle lines in UP politics are now clearly drawn. On the land leased in from the BSP, the BJP has begun sowing fresh seeds of communal mischief hoping to reap another bumper harvest at the hustings. Revolutionary democratic forces will have to wage a sirited resistance to reclaim this land.