Mayawati’s dreams for top post get more backing


New Delhi : Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati looked like emerging as the dark horse in the rapidly shifting political racetrack sands with two regional party leaders, both from Andhra Pradesh, declaring their support to her as a prime ministerial candidate Saturday.

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“Mayawati will play a crucial role in the third front. Why can’t she be the prime minister,” Telugu Desam Party (TDP) chief N. Chandrababu Naidu told reporters after he met Mayawati at her residence here.

Naidu, former chief minister of Andhra Pradesh, said he would meet Mayawati again before Tuesday’s crucial trust vote in parliament.

Naidu’s public support for Mayawati’s prime ministerial ambition came a few days after Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) chief K. Chandrasekhar Rao met her and announced his party’s backing to her.

“If and when the situation comes, we will be the first party to present Mayawati’s name for the post of dalit woman prime minister. Any progressive party will be happy to support her,” Rao said last week.

Mayawati’s entry into the political turmoil over the India-US civil nuclear deal appears to have send worrying signals to the ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) and its supporters. Both the Congress and its new friend Samajwadi Party fear that the BSP supremo would poach their MPs.

Munawar Hassan, a Samajwadi Party MP who had already joined BSP, said in Lucknow that more MPs from the party are against the India-US civil nuclear deal and would be defying the party whip.

More shocking for the Samajwadi Party was the switching over of its general secretary and senior leader Shahid Siddiqui. The Rajya Sabha MP, who attended a breakfast meeting at Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s residence in his role as an editor of an Urdu daily, drove to Mayawati’s Delhi residence straight after that to declare his allegiance to the Uttar Pradesh chief minister.

“Since last month, I was feeling suffocated in the party. And I was forced to support the deal. This deal is against the Muslims and India. This deal will make us the slave of the US and lead us to darkness,” said Siddiqui.

“The government should go,” he declared as a beaming Mayawati looked on.

The TDP chief, who has made efforts to bring the BSP and the Left closer, has been trying to get Mayawati into his almost broken United National Progressive Alliance (UNPA). The UNPA, formed a year ago as a non-Congress, non-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) political alternative, is on the verge of collapse after the Samajwadi Party joined hands with the Congress.

Keen to form a third alternative, Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) general secretary Prakash Karat also has met Mayawati last Sunday, inspiring the BSP chief to go ahead with her moves to spoil the plans of both the UPA and the NDA.