- Rahul Gandhi "looks more like Sonia Gandhi, a foreigner": BSP leader
- Jai Prakash Singh spoke against BSP's ideology, said Mayawati
- BSP in talks with Congress over partnership in upcoming state elections
A top Mayawati party leader was sacked on Tuesday, just hours after he "predicted" that Congress chief Rahul Gandhi is not prime minister material and "can never succeed in politics as he looks more like his mother, a foreigner".
Jai Prakash Singh, a vice president of Mayawati's Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), made the disparaging remarks at a meeting to discuss strategy for Madhya Pradesh polls in December and the 2019 national election; curiously, his boss was not present.
In a video, Mr Singh is heard telling a gathering of BSP workers: "A boy can either look like his mother or father. If Rahul Gandhi had been like his father, then he could have made it in Indian politics. But he is more like his mother (Sonia Gandhi), who is a foreigner. He has foreign blood. I can guarantee that he will not be a success in politics."
The comments have infuriated Mayawati as she negotiates complex talks with the Congress over a partnership in state elections later this year. In May, the BSP chief was even seen bumping heads and holding hands with Rahul Gandhi's mother Sonia Gandhi, displaying rare PDA at the swearing-in of HD Kumaraswamy as Karnataka chief minister.
"I came to know about the BSP national coordinator Jai Prakash Singh's speech in which he spoke against ideology of BSP and also made personal remarks against the leadership of rival parties. It's his personal opinion. So he has been removed from his post with immediate effect," Mayawati said in a statement.
"...indecent language should not be used against eminent personalities of other parties. In other words, party workers should not follow the footprints of some madcaps and should not use unrestrained language," she added.
For many in her party and the Congress, the swift action telegraphs mixed signals.
A tie-up between the two parties has looked tough after Mayawati served an ultimatum to Madhya Pradesh Congress chief Kamal Nath - partners in all states or none.
In Rajasthan, Congress leaders feel the party may stand a better chance of winning on its own after a BJP government. Besides, it is one of the few states where the two major parties dominate and the Congress still has any chance to take power.
The Congress does need Behenji - as Mayawati is popularly called - in Madhya Pradesh, where the BSP has a huge influence in parts and commands a vote share of up to seven per cent. That is significant in a state where the difference between the BJP and Congress vote share is less than 10 per cent.
"Behenji told us that the Congress cannot pick and choose according to its own whims and fancies. She wants sizeable seats in all states,'' a senior leader from Madhya Pradesh said.
Kamal Nath's attempts at trying to convince the Dalit leader have been fruitless.
So Jai Prakash Singh's comments made a bad situation worse.
By removing him from his post, Mayawati seems to have signaled to the Congress that the door is still ajar for alliance talks.
Senior Congress leaders today told NDTV: "It is work in progress.''