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Stung by defeat, Mayawati to revert to Dalit agenda

Last updated: 19 May, 2009
Lucknow, IANS: 18:43 IST

Stung by the results in the just-concluded Lok Sabha polls, BSP leader and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati Tuesday advocated returning to the old Dalit agenda. She spent 30 minutes of her nearly three-hour speech to party workers discussing a former aide who has been elected as a Congress MP.

About 1,000 Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) workers, including all ministers, legislators, newly elected MPs and the defeated candidates from different parts of the country, together with all district and zonal coordinators from Uttar Pradesh, gathered at the party headquarters here.

According to a party insider, the meeting went on for four hours, with Mayawati's speech taking up most of the time. It began and concluded with just one theme - a return to the old Dalit agenda.

Her national ambitions dashed with her BSP managing just 21 seats in Lok Sabha, Mayawati's lengthy speech was focussed on rethinking the "social engineering" strategy, carefully formulated to also woo the upper castes and abandoning its "only Dalit" ideology, said a BSP leader who attended the meeting.
While announcing dissolution of all party level committees, she declared at the closed-door meeting: "The re-constituted committees will give precedence to Dalits."
She voiced her disillusionment with Muslims who she accused of deserting her party.
What took party workers by surprise was her nearly 25-minute reference to one time blue-eyed retired bureaucrat P.L. Punia, who has won from the reserved Barabanki Lok Sabha seat on a Congress ticket.
Punia was Mayawati's principal secretary during her three earlier stints as chief minister but fell out of favour when he gave a statement against her in the Rs.175 crore Taj Corrridor corruption scam being investigated by the Central Bureau of Investigation.
BSP leaders present at the meeting said her insistence on spending so much time talking about the former Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer was disconcerting.
"Why is she devoting so much attention to Punia. After all he is just one elected MP; by spending nearly half an hour talking about Punia, we are only showing our panic," a party leader told a colleague.
She said he did not belong to her most favoured lot among the Dalits. "I wonder if you all are aware that Punia does not belong to the 'chamar' (cobbler) community; he is a 'danuk' from Haryana."
While Mayawati called a separate meeting with newly elected MPs Tuesday evening, she has convened another on Wednesday when she proposes to make an assessment of the votes secured by the BSP in the constituency of every minister and legislator.
Party leaders holding prominent positions in the state council of ministers or in the party hierarchy are likely to be pulled up if the party has not done well. And insiders are worried that some heads could roll.

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