Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) supremo Kanshi Ram is said to have decided that Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati should vacate the chair for the BJP according to the terms of the agreement between the two parties.
His thinking owes partly to the sabre-rattling by the Samajwadi Party and some of its United Front allies but also to his calculations for the next general elections.
Ram told some visitors earlier this week that he now felt that the BSP-BJP alliance in UP should continue. He evidently feels that this is the best bet for a good performance in the next general elections for both the state assembly and for Parliament.
Ram had indicated soon after the agreement was reached between the two parties that his party might breach it when the time came to hand over power to the BJP. According to the agreement, which was announced in late March, the two parties are to participate in a coalition with each side getting the Chief Ministers post for six months at a time.
Ram said that it would suit his party if Mayawati was not the Chief Minister when elections were held, since there was always an anti-establishment backlash. During the campaign, he could argue that one could not change things drastically in just six months.
Plus, he argued, his party would benefit if its Dalit supporters felt a hunger to regain the power they had enjoyed for a while.
Ram does not apparently intend to extend his partys alliance with the BJP to other states. While he is determined to push forward his partys growth in UP, which sends the largest number of MPs to the Lok Sabha, he does not want to strengthen any other party, including the BJP, to the extent that it does not need his support to form the government.
The BSP has enough clout in Madhya Pradesh and Punjab to be able to sweep a general election in either state in alliance with the BJP. If the BSP fights separately, however, it could limit the number of seats the BJP wins.