March 20, 2019
New Delhi: Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati on Wednesday announced that she will not contest Lok Sabha elections so as to be able to campaign effectively across the country but also indicated that her decision did not mean she was ruling herself out of the post-poll Prime Ministerial sweepstakes.
The former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister, asking her party workers not to be disheartened, said that she had decided not to contest the Lok Sabha election as it will better serve the interests of the party, the movement, the people and the country.
Her BSP, Samjwadi Party and Rashtriya Lok Dal are fighting the Lok Sabha polls together in Uttar Pradesh.
During a joint press conference with Mayawati earlier this year, SP leader Akhilesh Yadav had indicated his support to her for a role at the Centre, saying he will be “happy if another Prime Minister comes from the state.”
Analysts said that Mayawati’s decision could be guided by an assessment that the Bharatiya Janata Party will put a strong candidate against her in the seat she contests from so that she is forced to campaign hard there.
Though Mayawati explained reasons for her not contesting in a detailed press release Wednesday afternoon, there was an apprehension that the party rank and file, who want to see her as Prime Minister and play a role in the formation of next government, may get demoralised.
The BSP issued another release in the evening which asked party workers “not to feel even slight demoralisation” because of her decision not to fight the polls as “she was more concerned about the party, movement and the samaj”.
“Don’t get disheartened at all from my decision not to contest Lok Sabha elections for now,” she said.
Mayawati, who is a four-time Lok Sabha MP and four-time Chief Minister, said it is “well-known that she can fight from any seat in the state and the workers of BSP will ensure her victory”.
“But if the workers leave their constituencies out of affections despite my telling them not to, it can impact prospects of the candidates on other seats. The candidates of the alliance should not face any problem.
“It is more important to win every Lok Sabha seat in the state which will empower our mission of social change and economic liberty,” she said.
The party’s first letter hoped that that workers of the party will understand her “missonary decision” and work with full force for the victory of alliance candidates.
“I have full faith that they will as earlier respect the far-sightedness and sacrifice of their behneji (sister),” she said.
The second press release reminded workers that when she became Chief Minister in 1995 for the first time, she was not a member of legislative assembly or council.
“Similarly, there is provision at the Centre where a person has to a member of Lok Sabha or Rajya Sabha within six months of holding office of a minister/prime minister,” the release emphasised.
BSP spokesperson Sudhindra Bhadoria told IANS that Mayawati was party’s main campaigner and has to campaign not only in Uttar Pradesh but outside the state also where BSP has put up candidates and where party has alliances.
“If she contests, time will go into that. Time is very limited,” he said.
He also said that party workers were “not at all” demoralised by Mayawati’s decision.