The raging Dalit issue and a former BJP leader’s slur against her has provided the perfect conditions for Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati to emerge as a rallying point for Opposition parties.
For the past three days, the Dalit protests in Gujarat’s Una have dominated parliamentary sessions, and amid this chaos, Mayawati has risen to forcefully state her case and attack the BJP-led NDA.
On Monday, an hour into the monsoon session of Parliament, the Dalit leader launched a scathing attack on the central government over the recent atrocities against Dalits in Gujarat.
The next day, CPI (M) leader Sitaram Yechury raised the demolition of the Ambedkar Bhavan. But it was Mayawati’s intervention that forced the NDA to come out with an assurance that the Centre would ask the state to rebuild it.
On Wednesday, the Rajya Sabha session was disrupted as the Opposition protested over BJP’s Dayashankar Singh’s atrocious comment on Mayawati, prompting the party to go into a damage control mode and sack him.
Mayawati’s stance, highlighting the recent incident in Gujarat’s Una where seven Dailt boys were stripped and beaten, set the tone for the confrontation between an almost unified Opposition and the government. The Dalit issue, aptly highlighted with an eye on the upcoming polls in Uttar Pradesh, has found resonating support from other political parties. CPI(M)’s Yechury, Trinamool’s Derek o’Brien and Congress’ Anand Sharma swiftly moved to claim an opportunity to undermine the Modi government.
O’Brien summed up the Opposition mood and Mayawati’s deftness in rallying rally the parties behind her when he said, “Sir, what is happening in Gujarat? The Dalits are being oppressed and we are not discussing it. Behen ji (Mayawati) raised it two days ago. We all want to raise this issue.”
The former chief minister’s move also comes at a time when serious doubts were cast over the Opposition unity in Parliament in the backdrop of the recent assembly elections. The Biju Janata Dal and AIADMK were already operating individually. After the West Bengal polls, the Trinamool Congress decided to keep its distance from the Congress when it aligned with the Left, creating a further rift in the Opposition ranks.
For the BSP chief, this is an opportunity for a comeback, considering her party failed to win a single seat in Uttar Pradesh in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. To that end, the focus on the Dalit atrocity is a political potboiler. On Thursday, Gujarat’s Una will be paid a visit by Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, Nationalist Congress Party leader Praful Patel, furthering the matter.