Allahabad: Hit by the recent desertions by a number of former loyalists, Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati on Sunday claimed her party was "way ahead of others" in Uttar Pradesh in the run up to the 2017 polls, but alleged that Samajwadi Party, BJP and Congress had reached a tacit understanding "to create an impression that we are in dire straits".
"There have been instances of some disgruntled elements, upset over the party's refusal to accommodate their family members, quitting the BSP. They lost no time in making the allegation that in our party, tickets for contesting elections are being sold," Mayawati told a well-attended public rally here.
Terming it as ironical, the BSP chief said, "On the one hand, our opponents try to dismiss us as a spent force and on the other they allege that people are spending huge amounts to get a BSP ticket for the upcoming assembly polls in UP." "Herein lies a paradox which the common people can see through. But the SP, the BJP and the Congress have reached a tacit understanding to create an impression that we are in dire straits," she said.
Her comments came against the backdrop of veteran leaders Swami Prasad Maurya, R K Chaudhary and Brajesh Pathak quitting the BSP in the recent past. Mayawati also termed as "fake", a pre-poll survey which projected that her party would end up third, way behind the ruling SP and the resurgent BJP, if assembly polls were held in the state on Sunday.
"Our opponents, especially the Congress and the BJP, have numerous friends among big business people who control the mass media. This makes possible fake surveys wherein we are shown as having been relegated to the position of no 3 or even no 4 in the state. I would like to remind the people that similar misleading surveys had come out before the 2007 assembly polls as well, when we ended up winning an absolute majority," the BSP supremo said.
She lambasted Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav for "remaining busy in managing his own family" and "trying to establish contrived (zabardasti ke) relationships" - the latter being an allusion to his repeated comments that he saw Mayawati as his "bua" (paternal aunt).
The SP had come to power with an absolute majority, Mayawati said, but ended up "emboldening anti-social elements patronised by it" and "extending all benefits to members of one particular caste".
She claimed that the BJP's repeated assertion that it saw the ruling SP as its only challenger in the state was "a dangerous trick aimed at communally polarising UP ahead of the assembly election".
Taking potshots at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Mayawati said the people of Varanasi had voted for him with high hopes but now have to contend with an MP "who does not care about them even when floods in the ancient temple town have submerged abodes of humans and deities alike".
She took exception to recent newspaper advertisements by a private telecom company using the prime minister's photograph, alleging that Modi was benefitting big business houses by "snatching away land of the poor, waiving loans worth billions and making state-owned companies suffer to allow private ones to flourish."
Mayawati said the BJP was trying to drive a wedge between their party and the upper castes. She also alleged that the saffron party was against Dalits -- the traditional vote base of the BSP.
"They are trying to rake up the slogan of 'Tilak, Tarazu aur Talwar' to drive a wedge between our party and the upper castes. The fact remains we have never discriminated against the upper castes.
"We have championed the cause of reservation to the economically backward among the upper castes. Besides, we have always had top office-bearers, MLAs, MLCs and MPs from the upper castes," she said. "Recently, BJP leader Daya Shankar Singh made foul remarks against me. They sacked him but tried to give the whole affair an unfortunate twist so as to pit the upper castes against the Dalits. They may make more such attempts in the run-up to elections. I urge my supporters not to fall into their trap by getting unmindfully provoked," Mayawati said.
Taking a dig at the Congress' decision to project Sheila Dikshit as its chief ministerial face for UP, she said they had brought in an aging lady, in the hope of playing the Brahmin card.
"People must not forget the uncharitable views this lady had for the people of UP while she was the Delhi chief minister when she used to blame ills of the city on migrant workers from our state," she said.