Bahujan Samaj Party president Mayawati today said her party will not contest the zila panchayat chairpersons' elections so that it can focus on next year's assembly polls, drawing accusations from the Congress that she is pulling out to help the ruling BJP.
She said people wanted the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) to form the government next year --- and it will go to the polls with the slogan that Uttar Pradesh must be "saved".
Instead of contesting the zila parishad chairperson's elections, the party has decided to channelise its efforts on strengthening the organisation and expanding its base, Mayawati said.
She also said her party would have fought the zila chairpersons' elections if they were being held in a fair manner.
Polling for the district panchayat chiefs in Uttar Pradesh will take place on July 3. About 3,000 recently elected district panchayat members across UP will vote for these posts.
Mayawati's decision prompted a sharp response from the Uttar Pradesh Congress.
"The statement by Mayawati that her party will not contest the zila panchayat chairperson's elections makes it clear that whenever she has to help the BJP, she pulls back from contesting the polls," UP Congress spokesperson Ashok Singh tweeted in Hindi.
But Mayawati claimed that once the BSP forms its government in the state, the majority of the zila panchayat chairmen will themselves join her party as "they cannot function without power".
"We have kept this fact in mind and so decided not to contest the election," she said.
Alleging misuse of state machinery in the panchayat polls, she said the BJP is using the same tactics deployed by the earlier Samajwadi Party government.
"I also want to make it clear that if we were sure that these elections will be impartial, then the party would have fought them and at many places the BSP candidates would have won," she said.
The former chief minister claimed that during the BSP government's term there had never been a fraud in the big or small elections so that people kept faith in democracy.
She asked BSP workers to be wary of wary of rival parties "tactics".
Mayawati charged that these parties are acting according to a "conspiracy" and spreading rumours that the BSP is not as actively preparing for the assembly polls as it should.
She alleged that this was being done to demotivate BSP workers.
Mayawati said she has been in Lucknow since the first coronavirus wave subsided, holding regular meetings to strengthen the party at every level.
"But unlike other parties, I don't invite the media to show what all is being done. Meetings with party men of other states are also being held. The media, which is a strong pillar of democracy, should also not underestimate the BSP," she added.
The Samajwadi Party has alleged that BJP workers prevented its candidates from filing nominations for the June 3 elections. The SP also sacked at least 11 district-level leaders, suggesting that they "colluded" with the BJP.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)