Weeks after the BSP’s dismal poll performance in Uttar Pradesh, its president Mayawati on Friday appointed her younger brother Anand Kumar as the party’s new national vice-president, officially designating him as No 2, and said she was ready to join hands with “other anti-BJP parties”. While the political reach-out was mainly in the context of her allegations of tampering of electronic voting machines, the decision to elevate Kumar came as a surprise and drew charges of nepotism from dissenting voices within the BSP.
Addressing party workers at Ambedkar Memorial in Lucknow on the birth anniversary of B R Ambedkar, Mayawati also defended her election strategy of fielding 100 Muslim candidates, saying that the community was part of the BSP movement.
The BSP leader also criticised the BJP government in UP, led by Yogi Adityanath, for not giving enough time to shop-owners before cracking down on illegal meat shops and abattoirs, and offered support to women demanding the closure of liquor shops in residential areas.
In a rare personal touch, Mayawati said she was tired of criticism that she reads out speeches and does not speak impromptu, and claimed that it was because one of the glands in her throat had to be removed in 1996. She said doctors had advised her to speak slowly with the help of written material.
However, the highlight of her two-hour-long speech was the announcement that her younger brother would be the party’s second-in-command. The post was previously held by Rajya Sabha member Rajaram for close to 10 years.
Mayawati said she has decided to give Kumar “an important responsibility in the party on the condition that he will work without any selfishness and will never become an MP, MLA, minister or chief minister”.
She said she has given him the freedom to run his real-estate business and bring his family members into the party.