Strange love-hate relationship of Congress and BSP

Strange love-hate relationship of Congress and BSP

BSP chief Mayawati and Sonia Gandhi in a happy moment and Rahul Gandhi is seen beside them. This photo was taken during the swearing-in ceremony of H D Kumaraswamy as chief minister of Karnataka in May last year. (PTI File Photo)

As Mayawati recently accused the Congress of pursuing a 'dogli niti' (double standard), the relationship between the two parties has turned a full circle since Sonia Gandhi had hugged the BSP chief at the swearing-in ceremony of H D Kumaraswamy in May 2018.

Stung by all its MLAs in Rajasthan joining the Congress, Mayawati has gone hammer and tongs against the grand old party, accusing it of being “untrustworthy and betrayer”.

But a closer look at the developments in the past one year shows that Mayawati herself is to be, partly if not substantially, blamed for this impasse to which Congress-BSP relation has reached.

The party founded by her mentor Kanshi Ram has always been in a make-and-break alliance mode, dumping allies one after another, a phenomenon which continued till recently.

Many Congressmen believe that Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot’s swift midnight operation was in a way a case of paying back in the same coin. The move left Mayawati squirming, whose party had made a tough but unfruitful bargain in seat-sharing negotiations during last year Assembly polls in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh. Eventually, both the parties blamed each other for the failure to strike a pre-poll alliance.

“Communal forces are getting strengthened due to Congress’s political doublespeak. Instead of weakening communal forces, Congress is busy weakening those who raise their voice against them (communal forces),” Mayawati had said on Wednesday. Mayawati had earlier alleged that poaching of BSP MLAs in Rajasthan once again proved that the Congress party is “untrustworthy and a betrayer.”

BSP cites this “betrayal” as a proof to drive home the point that “Congress is anti-OBC, anti-SC, and anti-ST party”. It also chose to flag “Congress and alleged that it has always been the opponent of Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar and his humanist ideology. That is why Ambedkar had to resign as the country’s first law minister. Congress neither allowed him to get elected in Lok Sabha nor honoured him with Bharat Ratna.”. 

BSP’s desperation to distance Dalits from Congress has been visible from time to time despite short-term bonhomie between them. Just days after a flash of bonhomie in 1999, when the then Congress president Sonia drove to Mayawati’s residence in Delhi with a bouquet of flowers to wish her on her birthday, Mayawati had gone on an offensive against Congress accusing it of ignoring Dalits.

Congress and BSP entered into an electoral alliance in Uttar Pradesh in 1996. Soon the BSP dumped it and joined hands with the BJP to form a short-lived government. In 2003 again, Sonia had sent a bouquet to Mayawati, when ailing Kanshi Ram was in the hospital. In February 2008, Mayawati had a meeting with Sonia, creating a buzz. By year-end, Congress and BSP were at each other’s neck.

The latest was Sonia's hugging Mayawati on stage when an array of Opposition leaders had gathered at the swearing-in ceremony of H D Kumaraswamy as Karnataka chief minister.

Within six months, Mayawati refused to ally with Congress for Assembly elections and later this year put her foot down to keep Congress out of Opposition alliance in Uttar Pradesh.