Dalit leader Mayawati's Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) completed a feat which was out of grasp for a Uttar Pradesh (UP) state government for two decades: that of completing a full five year term. It is no easy challenge to win even a simple majority in the state assembly which has 403 seats because there are many strong contenders fighting for them. The BSP, the Samajawadi Party (SP), the Bharatiya Janatha Party (BJP) and the Indian National Congress (INC) all have a say in the most populous state in India. Mayawati's BSP won 206 seats in the 2007 state elections.
However, her tenure was marred by allegations about her personal conduct including erecting her own statues. Also the corruption charges against more than a score of her ministers was giving her enough trouble. The opposition parties, most notably the BJP and the SP had been vocal in the accusations against the ministers.
It was against this backdrop that Mayawati played the master stroke against all her detractors. She simply sacked 21 ministers and denied nominations for many more Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs). All of a sudden, the other parties have grabbed the chance to take them to their fold. The BJP leads the pack in taking the ousted big guns of the BSP. The real irony is that just a day or two ago, the self same big guns have been described by the self same parties as "thieves". Now, the same "thieves" are expected to contest the elections hand in hand with their former accusers.
This contentious move may send some of their own partisans back to the fold of other parties and the parties have been willing to take the risk. Even though the move have been described some as the BJP swallowing Mayawati's bait, on the other hand it is not so unnatural for the other parties to do this. In 2007, all parties had a significant number of contestants with criminal pasts. It seems that the whole drama proves that all parties have "thieves" among them who can win an election.
In politics, as Machiavelli aptly put centuries ago, "the ends justifies the means".