Dalit powerhouse Mayawati, who already warned off her leaders who appeared to take an alliance with the Congress for granted, has issued another message. This time, it if for the leaders of the Congress, who are already divided over an alliance with the Bahujan Samaj Party in three states where assembly elections will be held later this year.
While Congress leaders in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh feel that an alliance with the Dalit leader will help the party, leaders from Rajasthan contend that an alliance will be beneficial for the BSP in the state and injurious for the Congress in the long run. Last week, a meeting held to take a call on the issue ended on an indecisive note and reports of it appeared to have irked the BSP chief.
The BSP will contest elections as a part of coalition government only if it gets respectable number of seats, Ms Mayawati said today.
Then, in what's seen as a further takedown of the Congress, she added, "The BSP wants to tell Congress leaders giving reactions about an alliance with BSP in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, that the same condition applies to Congress as well".
An alliance with the BSP is crucial to swing Uttar Pradesh, which sends the largest number of lawmakers to parliament. That the Congress feels her importance was evident in the optics at the oath ceremony of Karnataka chief minister HD Kumaraswamy in May.
On the occasion, which doubled up as a unofficial opposition summit, UPA chief Sonia Gandhi was seen hugging Mayawati, who already has an alliance with Samajwadi chief Akhilesh Yadav for 2019 and contested the Karnataka assembly election at the side of Mr Kumaraswamy. The Congress was a late entrant in the Karnataka alliance, choosing to back up Mr Kumaraswamy to keep the BJP out of power.
Last month, the Congress reached out to Mayawati about a tie-up for the coming elections in Madhya Pradesh. Days later, a leader from her party dismissed the possibility of a tie-up, saying the BSP will contest all 230 seats in the state.
Three days later, over the weekend, Mayawati warned her senior leaders against making public comments on possibility of alliances, saying such remarks would amount to indiscipline. The decision on alliances, she said, could be taken only by the party brass.
Follow NDTV for latest election news and live coverage of assembly elections 2019 in Maharashtra and Haryana.
Subscribe to our YouTube channel, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter and Instagram for latest news and live news updates.