Mayawati mum on president, to meet Sonia


New Delhi : Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati, who holds the key to who would be the next president, continued her ambiguous stand Friday amid indications that she might go along with the ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA).

Support TwoCircles

"Our party is not a UPA ally, but to keep communal forces out of power we are supporting the UPA from outside and will continue to do so," she said during her first visit to the national capital after taking over power.

Though she maintained her "no decision yet" stand on the issue of who the BSP would support as president, Mayawati gave priority to her meeting with UPA chairperson and Congress president Sonia Gandhi – giving the impression of her willingness to go along with UPA.

Till Thursday, there was no mention of any meeting with Sonia Gandhi in her official itinerary. But she told reporters Friday: "Today, Sonia Gandhi invited me over to tea. I will be going to meet her at 4.30 p.m."

She said it was primarily a courtesy call.

Formally, the BSP president left the matter of the next president to her party's national executive Friday evening.

"Our party has just taken charge of the Uttar Pradesh government. Since then I have been very busy with Uttar Pradesh. This is an important issue and our party has to take a considered view of the whole question."

Though the national executive begins Friday evening, many leaders, legislators and ministers from the state would arrive only Saturday. "We will see what our people want," Mayawati said.

The tea with Sonia Gandhi comes in the wake of speculation that the BSP might support BJP leader and vice president Bhairon Singh Shekhawat for president.

Although the ruling coalition has a slight edge, neither UPA nor the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-National Democratic Alliance (NDA) have a majority in the electoral college that will elect the Indian president.

Naturally, the BSP's crucial numbers, strengthened by its victory in this month's Uttar Pradesh assembly elections, gives it the power to decide who would be the new president.