- Mayawati may contest elections by herself in Bihar, party leader hints
- Decision could be a setback for opposition trying to fight BJP together
- Tejashwi Yadav says not aware of decision, will speak to Mayawati
Mayawati's Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) may be preparing to scuttle the opposition grand alliance against the BJP for the national election in a fourth key state. The party is likely to contest alone in Bihar, a leader hinted today, amid attempts by opposition parties including the RJD and Congress to crystallise their alliance.
Today, the BSP announced that its alliance with Samajwadi Party would go beyond Uttar Pradesh to Uttarakhand and Madhya Pradesh, which means a fragmented opposition in three states.
The BSP's Bihar in-charge Lalji Medhkar said the party would contest all 40 parliamentary seats of Bihar. "BSP chief Mayawati has instructed us to prepare to contest from all seats in Bihar," said the leader. He also said the BSP may not be a part of the "mahagathbandhan" and that Mayawati would announce a decision after a meeting in Delhi on February 28.
RJD's Tejashwi Yadav told ndtv.com that he was not aware of any decision. "But I will get in touch with the respected BSP leader and ensure that the party is a part of the mahagathbandhan in Bihar," he said.
The Grand Alliance parties in Bihar were waiting for Mayawati to join them and put up a united opposition against the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance, which includes Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's Janata Dal United.
The Bihar 'Mahagathbandhan' includes the Congress, the RJD or Rashtriya Janata Dal of Tejashwi's father Lalu Yadav, former Union Minister Upendra Kushwaha's Rashtriya Lok Samta Party (RLSP), the Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM) led by Jitan Ram Manjhi and the Vikassheel Insaan Party (VIP) led by Mukesh Sahni.
For weeks, they have been trying to agree on seat-sharing. To bring Mayawati on board, Lalu Yadav had reportedly offered her a Rajya Sabha seat from Bihar, since she did not have enough lawmakers in Uttar Pradesh.
Tejashwi Yadav had even met with Mayawati in Lucknow in January, just after she had announced her pact with Akhilesh Yadav of the Samajwadi Party. Tejashwi Yadav, photographed touching Mayawati's feet after handing her a bouquet, had spoken about strengthening opposition unity.
But reports suggested Tejashwi had planned to give the BSP just one or two seats, which did not sit well with Mayawati.
Although not a force to reckon with in Bihar, where it polled just over two per cent of the total votes in the 2015 state polls and crashed in all but three of the 228 constituencies, the BSP can hurt the Mahagathbandhan in places where the margins are small.
The BSP has the potential to make a dent in pockets in Bihar, particularly in areas near the Uttar Pradesh border like Gopalganj, Kaimur and Rohtas.
Another Bihar opposition ally, HAM chief and Dalit leader Jitan Ram Manjhi, is also reported to be unhappy over seats.
"My party should get respectable number of seats. We have a large vote bank," Mr Manjhi has said. There have been reports since his failed seat negotiations with RJD chief Lalu Yadav, that he is in touch with the BJP.