- Mayawati addressed four rallies this week outside Uttar Pradesh
- BSP sources say this is her pitch for a larger role after the elections
- She has stitched alliances in several states
Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati addressed four rallies this week, days before the national elections are to start on April 11. But none of the rallies by the four-time Uttar Pradesh chief minister were organised in the crucial state that has 80 Lok Sabha seats. Her party is contesting the elections in an alliance with Akhilesh Yadav's Samajwadi Party against the BJP, a tough opponent.
Instead, Mayawati has spent the last week addressing rallies in Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Maharashtra. More rallies are scheduled in Uttarakhand, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu.
BSP sources say this is Mayawati's pitch for a larger role after the elections, possibly to be a more agreeable person among contenders even for the top job.
Two days ago, Mayawati was asked about her prime ministerial ambitions at a press conference in Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh. "As far as my becoming PM is concerned, let me tell you the elections are on. Wait for the results. If we get a chance at the centre, we will develop the country on the UP pattern. All of this is not new for me. I am a four-time UP chief minister; I have the experience. When election results come out, we will see," she told reporters.
This is not the first time Mayawati has broadcast her national ambitions or is fighting for seats outside Uttar Pradesh. In the 2014 national elections, the party contested all 503 Lok Sabha seats but failed to win a single one, not even in UP.
The BSP's vote share was 4.19 per cent in the 2014 elections, down from the 6.17 per cent votes it polled in the 2009 national elections when it contested 500 seats and won 21 seats - 20 in Uttar Pradesh and one in Madhya Pradesh.
The last time the BSP won in more than one state outside Uttar Pradesh in any national elections was back in 1996, when the party won six seats in Mayawati's home state, two in Madhya Pradesh and three in Punjab.
In Uttar Pradesh, the BSP's performance has been slipping. It bagged 27.42 per cent votes and 20 Lok Sabha seats in 2009. In 2014, its vote share fell to 19.82 per cent and did not win a single seat in the crucial heartland state. On reserved seats, where the BSP has its core voters, the party stood third in six out of 17 seats in 2014.
The BSP won only 19 out of 403 assembly seats in the 2017 state elections - the vote share rising from 19.82 per cent in the 2014 national elections to 22 per cent in the assembly polls.
BSP sources say what's different this time is that Mayawati has stitched together pre-poll alliances - with Akhilesh Yadav in her state, actor-politician Pawan Kalyan's Jan Sena in Andhra Pradesh, and former chief minister Ajit Jogi's party in Chhattisgarh.
Mayawati's prime ministerial ambitions have been endorsed by her alliance partner Akhilesh Yadav. "When the Lok Sabha elections results come, a person can be prime minister from anywhere in the country. But UP has given this country many prime ministers. There will be no one happier than me if someone from Uttar Pradesh becomes the PM," Mr Yadav told reporters in Lucknow on Friday.
The people of Uttar Pradesh will vote in all the seven phases of the Lok Sabha elections starting April 11. Results will be out on May 23.