Mayawati's Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) has said it will not participate in the nation-wide strike called by opposition parties on Thursday to protest the government's reform measures announced last week.
This will come as a huge relief to a beleaguered UPA, which is now in a minority in Parliament after the Trinamool Congress announced it was exiting the Congress-led ruling coalition. The ruling party is now looking at the BSP, which supports the UPA from outside, as its best bet to make up the numbers it needs to survive. The BSP has 21 MPs, two more than the Trinamool Congress.
Mulayam Singh Yadav's Samajwadi Party (SP), which has 22 MPs and was for long considered the Congress' Plan B if Mamata Banerjee ditched the UPA, has been playing hard to get. The SP has said it will participate in tomorrow's bandh. (Poll: Should the government give in to Mamata Banerjee?)
The BSP's Uttar Pradesh chief Ramachal Rajbhar's announced that the party would have nothing to do with Thursday's strike at a meeting of party workers today. Sources in Mayawati's party have said that she will decide on her relationship with the UPA at a meeting of her party on October 9 - the party supports the UPA from outside. Though the BSP too has opposed the hike in diesel prices and the new norms on foreign direct investment in retail effected last week, Ms Mayawati is seen to be the softest on the government right now. Unlike Ms Banerjee or Mr Yadav, who are riding recent electoral successes and would not mind mid-term elections to extend their gains, Ms Mayawati was the big loser in the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections this year and she will not want early polls since she is unlikely to make too many gains.