The Hindu Editorial (Evasive Mayawati) 23 March 2019
Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati once again asserted this week she is a contender for the post of Prime Minister, though she will not be contesting in the Lok Sabha polls herself. She also lost no opportunity to position herself equidistant from the Congress and the BJP, the two national parties at the opposite poles of the electoral contest this year. Much more than her alliance partner for the parliamentary election in Uttar Pradesh, the Samajwadi Party, effectively led by Akhilesh Yadav, she has discounted any need to seek Congress support to give greater ballast to the fight against the BJP. Unlike Mr. Yadav, she has refrained from giving the impression that she too considers the BJP a bigger threat to their social justice politics, relative to the Congress. The BSP-SP-Rashtriya Lok Dal alliance in U.P. will not contest in Amethi and Rae Bareli, the constituencies of Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi, respectively. When the Congress sought to reciprocate the gesture by announcing it would not field candidates against the senior leaders of the alliance, the BSP chief was stinging in her rebuff. Positioning herself politically vis-à-vis the Congress at a time when the BJP is dominant has not been easy. For the Assembly elections in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan last year, Ms. Mayawati’s pre-poll negotiations with the Congress were half-hearted and doomed. The BSP ended up with an alliance with Ajit Jogi’s Janta Congress Chhattisgarh that cut into the traditional Congress base in the State. The Congress, though, compensated for the loss with support from other communities and won the election.
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Ms. Mayawati, however, felt compelled to quickly offer support to the Congress, which was short on numbers in M.P. and Rajasthan, citing the need to keep the BJP out. Last month, she termed the BJP and the Congress as having the same character. At the heart of her political projection is her battle to win back a larger spectrum of Dalit support. While her core Jatav base is largely intact, the strain of Ambedkarite politics she inherited from mentor Kanshi Ram is being challenged in the overall churn. The Hindutva upsurge under Narendra Modi appeals to a section of Dalits while the emergence of new outfits and leaders such as Chandrashekhar Azad in U.P. and Jignesh Mevani in Gujarat indicates a yearning for assertion among sections of Dalits. The Congress’s efforts to woo Dalits are also discomfiting for her. Ms. Mayawati’s success in gaining power in U.P. on earlier occasions depended on stitching alliances with backward castes and upper castes, either through tie-ups with the SP or the BJP or by creating an equivalent social coalition under the BSP banner. After the great debacle of 2014, when the BSP did not get even one Lok Sabha seat, she is anxious that her primacy as a Dalit leader is secured. This, more than a continuing aspiration for the PM’s post, explains her evasive politics.
The Hindu Editorial Vocabulary Wordlist
1) EQUIDISTANT (Adj) = Median, ( समदूरस्थ )
Synonyms = Halfway, Middle.
Antonyms = UNequal, Less Important.
2) Refrained (Verb) = Abstain, ( परहेज )
Synonyms = Avoid, Cease.
Antonyms = Carry on, Continue.
3) Reciprocate (Verb) = Repay, ( विनिमय करना )
Synonyms = Retaliate, Barter.
Antonyms = Ask, Disagree.
4) Stinging (Adj) = Painful, ( चुभता )
Synonyms = Biting, Bitter.
Antonyms = Bland, Blunt.
5) Citing (Verb) = Allege, ( का हवाला देते हुए )
Synonyms = Allude to, Indicate.
Antonyms = Conceal, Deny.
6) EVASIVE (Adj) = Deceitful, ( टालने वाला )
Synonyms = Ambiguous, Cagey.
Antonyms = Clear, Definite.
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