Friday, February 24, 2017
NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi has become the common target of three women leaders –Sonia Gandhi,Mayawati and Mamata Banerjee- who are challenging his `demonetisation’ plank not only inside and outside parliament, but are now preparing to make it an issue in next month’s Assembly elections in five states.
The only one woman Chief Minister who remains an ally of the BJP, and works in close coordination with PM Modi is Jammu and Kashmir’s Mehbooba Mufti. She has praised him for the demonetisation saying it was not an ordinary move, indeed a “historic decision.” Mufti has resisted all efforts by senior colleages in her party who have advocated a parting of ways with the BJP since she came to power.
On the other hand all the other top women leaders have come out strongly against the Prime Minister and his policies in recent weeks in particular. While the Congress president Sonia Gandhi has been consistent in opposing PM Modi after the Gujarat riots that took place during his chief ministership, the BSP chief Mayawati and the Trinamul Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee are the more recent converts, with both hitting out against the PM and his policies on an almost daily basis.
Although the BSP was never part of the BJP led NDA at the national level,Mayawati had become the Uttar Pradesh chief minister earlier with the support of the saffron party. Besides, she had also campaigned for the BJP in the Gujarat Assembly polls held in 2002 and shared a dais with then state Chief Minister Modi during the election meetings.
Mamata Banerjee too was part of the NDA at the national level. She was a minister in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government. The BJP had remained behind her in her fight against the Left and the Congress when she quit the parent party and floated her own Trinamool Congress in West Bengal over fifteen years ago.
But now both Mayawati and Mamata Banerjee have sharpened their attack on PM Modi joining Sonia Gandhi as amongst his most hostile adversaries. Banerjee in fact has been visibly angry and bitter after the arrests of senior Trinamul Congress MPs.
Mayawati is focusing more on the minorities in Uttar Pradesh, with her ire against the BJP inspired by the strategy to bring about a Dalit-Muslim consolidation in UP. Her attack on the Prime Minister will sharpen as the campaign builds up, to attract the minorities to her fold. Mayawati is not as sure as she has been in earlier elections about the upper caste vote that seems to be more inclined towards the BJP at this stage in UP. She has taken a lead in highlighting the atrocities against Dalits in other parts of the country.
Sonia Gandhi remains the credible face of the Congress party. Her road show in Varanasi held in August last, drew unprecedented response cutting across caste and gender lines and attracted different age groups . Although she is not active because of health issues, AICC officials said she would attend the Congress’ convention being held here either on January 11 or 12 and will address few meetings in Uttar Pradesh where her target will remain the Prime Minister and the BJP.
In most states going to the polls next month, the Congress is in direct contest with the BJP as in Uttarakhand, Goa, and with BJP and allies in states like Manipur and Punjab.