The SP and BSP are shaking hands now, just like they did back in 1993 when, again, the BJP was a force on the rise in the run-up to an election.
However, between these two times of coming together for the two parties lies a tragic incident that occurred in a guest house in 1995.
Despite the recent bonhomie between Samajwadi Party (SP) and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), the two parties share a long history of antagonism, facing off against each other in a decades-old battle for power in India’s biggest swing state – Uttar Pradesh.
The two parties ferociously campaigned against each other even in the previous 2017 state assembly election, with Mayawati openly targeting the poor law and order situation in the state under the then SP regime.
Earlier in the 2007 assembly election, Mayawati campaigned against the Yadav clan’s grip on power with the slogan “Chadh gundon ki chati par, button dabao hathi par (Climb atop the goons' chests, and vote for the elephant)”, essentially a plea to support the BSP. On his part, the then SP supremo, Mulayam Singh, vowed to send Mayawati to jail once in power.
However, things have taken a ‘U-turn’ ever since. The two regional giants who were always at loggerheads are now seen cosying up after the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s overwhelming victory in the 2017 assembly polls, which inadvertently demolished the ancient walls of rivalry between them.
The current scenario is unfolding along similar lines as the 1993 election.
The BJP was riding the saffron wave back in 1993 because of the ‘Ram Janmabhoomi’ push. To keep the ‘Hindu nationalist’ BJP away from power, SP and BSP joined hands. While the BJP emerged as the single-largest party, the coalition of Kanshi Ram and Mulayam Singh ended up forming the government, with the latter becoming chief minister.
However, the ignominious 2 June 1995 ‘Meerabai Guest House Incident’, which almost took Mayawati’s life, ended the alliance of convenience and sowed the seeds for bitter rivalry between the two political titans that was to continue until they were faced once again with political oblivion.
The context to the incident was that back on the second day of June in 1995, the BSP withdrew support from the government, leaving Mulayam Singh with a minority in the state assembly. According to this report in the Patrika, which itself quotes from Ajoy Bose’s Behenji, when numerous efforts to seek reconciliation failed, some unruly SP goons stormed Room-1 of the Meerabai Guest House, where Mayawati was residing.
The intruders proceeded to attack Mayawati, tearing off her clothes and laying down gas cylinders in the room adjacent with the intention to kill her. Accounts say she was beaten up and her room vandalised; sexual and casteist slurs were also hurled at her.
According to Patrika, the BSP members of legislative assembly (MLAs) sitting in the common hall closed the main door out of fear. However, the hooligans broke the door, slapped and kicked the MLAs, and dragged at least five MLAs outside to a car that took them to the chief minister’s residence.
The BSP MLAs were forcefully told to pledge allegiance to Mulayam Singh. Some of the MLAs were so shaken with fear that they even signed blank papers.
When her MLAs having left her as prey for the SP ‘goondas’, Mayawati called the then BJP MLA, Brahm Dutt Dwivedi, whose residence was near the guest house, for help.
In an exclusive interview with Swarajya, Sunil Dutt Dwivedi, son of late Brahm Dutt Dwivedi, recalls the incident that is regarded as a ‘black day’ in the state’s politics. According to him, Brahm Dutt climbed the wall of the guest house to save Mayawati, risking his life when even the police were taking the SP’s side.
Dwivedi stood as a wall between the goondas and Mayawati. As he was a ‘Sangh Sevak’, Dwivedi knew how to fight with a ‘lathi’ (baton). He fought with the attackers who were armed with lethal weapons. Later, as Mayawati’s clothes were torn, Brahm Dutt Dwivedi offered his shawl to the now BSP supremo. “It was only a matchstick which could have killed Mayawati as SP goons laid down gas cylinder pipes in the room,” says Dwivedi.
Mayawati regarded the late Brahm Dutt Dwivedi as an elder brother and did not field a candidate against his wife in the 1997 by-election in Farrukhabad. Even while she campaigned ferociously against the BJP throughout the length and breath of Uttar Pradesh, she would not do so against Dwivedi.
However, Sunil Dutt Dwivedi recalls the 1996 election when Mayawati would often call the Dwivedi residence, proposing a BSP-BJP alliance. “She (Mayawati) would call our landline as there were no cell phones at that time. I would pick up the phone, and she used to say that my father is like a brother to her; hence I am her ‘bhatija.’ Then she would request me to ask my father to try and convince the BJP officials to come into alliance with the BSP. She even suggested that they can use the six-month formula for the chief minister,” says Sunil Dutt Dwivedi.
Fast forward 24 years, the BSP supremo, overlooking the 1995 incident, has said, “I am moving ahead of the 1995 guest house incident in the interest of the country and to serve the people, who are upset with the BJP's ‘anti-people’ policies,” as reported in the Economic Times.
Calling it a ‘Thugbandhan,’ Dwivedi took a jibe at the BSP-SP coalition, saying that when the tides have risen against her, she has found a new ‘bhatija’ in Akhilesh Yadav.
The ‘bua-bhatija’ duo has sidelined the Congress and agreed to fight the upcoming Lok Sabha election on 38 seats each, leaving the Congress strongholds of Amethi and Raebareli, and two other seats for other parties.
Furthermore, Dwivedi said the ‘gathbandhan’ exists only as an arrangement between Akhilesh Yadav and Mayawati as there are still many walls of anger, disappointment, and hostility between the cadres of both the parties.
Remaining positive about the upcoming election, he said, “The 22 per cent each voting share which the BSP and SP think will sum up to 44 per cent is a mere dream, as in politics, there is no simple math. The Bharatiya Janata Party with its 51 per cent voting share will again emerge as victors, beating the SP-BSP duo.”