With the Lok Sabha elections due in 2019, to be preceded by Assembly elections in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh, the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) president Mayawati on Tuesday sought to distance herself from the Congress.

The BSP president has held the Congress, in addition to the BJP, responsible for the rise in petrol and diesel prices. Mayawati has, in fact, slammed the BJP government for following the “wrong economic policies” of the Congress (read UPA government).

By accusing both the BJP and the Congress for creating conditions which led to Monday’s Bharat Bandh in protest against the rise in diesel and petrol prices, the BSP chief sought to place the two parties on the same platform. The BSP had stayed away from the Bharat Bandh sponsored by the Congress and 20 other opposition parties.

Mayawati’s attack of the Congress comes at a time when reports have claimed that there is a possibility of the BSP and the Congress entering into an alliance for the Assembly elections in Madhya Pradesh later this year. However, for the record, the BSP supremo has maintained a stoic silence on whether or not her party will forge a poll alliance with the Congress in Madhya Pradesh. But Mayawati’s stinging attack on the Congress indicated the possibility of the BSP going it alone in the MP Assembly polls.

Reacting to Monday’s shutdown at a news conference on Tuesday, the BSP president assailed the central government for its statement that it was unable to control the diesel and petrol prices. She said this proved that in an election year the BJP government could ill-afford to antagonise the capitalists and big industrialists.

Mayawati said that the present BJP government at the Centre has not only continued with the implementation of the “wrong economic policies” of the Congress but it went ahead and imposed a “financial emergency” through demonetisation.

The BSP president also criticised the NDA government for the Goods and Services Tax (GST). She said the BJP government had adopted the same economic policies which had made the Congress-led UPA government unpopular which led to its ouster from power in 2014.

Even as Mayawati distanced herself from the Congress and the BJP, she sought to justify the BSP not participating in the Bharat Bandh.

Stating that the BSP is a party of the “sarv samaj” which believed in the welfare of the poor, labourers, poor farmers and the middle class, Mayawati said the BSP’s style of protest differed from other parties. It was in accordance with the Constitution. The party ensured that no difficulty was faced by the common man on account of shutdown.