By Aditya Aamir
‘Could Mayawati be the next PM?’ NDTV tweeted Sunday after Dr Pronoy Roy asked the question to Mayawati at a JD(S) rally in Karnataka. The BSP supremo smiled. Two JD(S) leaders on the stage with Mayawati smiled. Close Up it looked like a Colgate commercial! Danish Ali, who at times claims he is second only to H S Devegowda in the JD(S) hierarchy, answered with an emphatic ‘Yes’.
At times Ali also forgets that Deve Gowda has an adult son who was once Karnataka CM. Son Kumaraswamy, sitting next to Mayawati, gave his own ‘Yes’ and Roy being Roy followed up with: “Is the BJP afraid of Mayawati?” And Mayawati being Mayawati replied in the affirmative. “All non-secular forces are afraid of the BSP,” she told the beaming Roy.
Ali finished the sideshow with these sanguine words: “Behen Mayawati is the only non-Congress, non-BJP leader with an all-India image. She will be the PM face of the Opposition.” NDTV took that as proof that it was neither Narendra Modi nor Rahul Gandhi who people think of as India’s next Prime Minister. But instead of laying it out straight, NDTV – ever the undecided mistress of the question mark – settled for ‘Could Mayawati be the next PM?’
Twitterati reacted in variations of the exclamation. One chap wrote, ‘Don’t, not on a Sunday!’ Another tweeted, ‘Let her first get one MP!’ Yet another answered question with question: ‘Has NDTV given up on Pappu?’ Of course, social Media is patrolled by gangs of trolls and not all that are posted and tweeted can be taken for true sentiment. Besides, the BSP must surely not have the kind of formidable SM presence that the BJP and Congress boast of. NDTV and Pronoy Roy should have factored that in before tweeting ‘Could Mayawati be the next PM?’
Maybe, sections of media have had enough of the Modi-Rahul binary. Could be that some have come to the conclusion that Rahul Gandhi doesn’t stand a chance against Modi and must have taken upon themselves to cut loose with a far more acceptable opposition PM-face. Mayawati fits the bill because politically crucial Uttar Pradesh is her stamping ground. Two, it is she alone who can on her one word transfer votes to another party. Gorakhpur and Phulpur are proof. So, Mayawati aligned with JD (S) was a fetching distraction to pose the question ‘Could Mayawati be the next PM?’
Besides, in the thick of the Karnataka elections campaign, Deve Gowda’s party fancies its chances to play kingmaker. With opinion polls not giving the Congress or the BJP a clear mandate, the JD (S) with a predicted 40-45 Karnataka assembly seats looks forward to playing a kingmaker role in 2019, too. Pronoy Roy wearing his pollster-hat probably caught on to that. Roy wouldn’t have been welcomed on Modi’s stage. Rahul Gandhi wouldn’t have said ‘No’ but Roy chose to be on stage with Mayawati.
That sets the stage for Mayawati even if mainstream media other than the odd one haven’t given her much thought. Come to think of it, most media and Mayawati do not share good vibes. There are a couple of left-leaning journalists who have written a book each on ‘Behen Mayawati’. But most journalists are not friendly with Mayawati. Her ‘arrogance’ comes in the way. Also, she is not averse to let slip her ‘dogs of war’ on scribes if the occasion so demands. AAP leader and ex-television journalist Ashutosh will testify to that.
Mayawati also has shades of Jayalalithaa in her. BSP legislators are prone to go down on their knees in her exalted presence. And her love for self-aggrandisement is no less legendary. Even if all that can be discounted, Mayawati will not be crowned ‘Queen’ because there too many opposition satraps whose personal ambitions match hers. Mamata Didi, for one. Mulayam Singh Yadav, for another, if Akhilesh Yadav does not object. And don’t forget Sharad Pawar, he will not forget!
Then, there is UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi rooting for son Rahul Gandhi. Was it BJP President Amit Shah (or was it Prakash Javadekar?) who said the other day that for the BJP, the Congress was its “main rival” because the “Congress is the only other national party”? Funny, because Shah and Modi have been talking about a ‘Congress-Mukt Bharat!’ But it makes sense. For the BJP, the Opposition squabbling over ‘who would be next PM?’ is half the battle won for Modi to get a second term.
Like said earlier, Pronoy Roy’s question ‘Could Mayawati be next PM?’ sets the stage for seismic events to rock India. Rahul Gandhi and Didi Banerjee step aside, please. Give way for a Modi-Mayawati showdown. It’s nearly show-time! (IPA Service)