Mayawati is a much-misunderstood lady. More and more people seem to be under the impression that she is setting up statues of herself all over UP for self-glorification. Some say she has a statue fetish, others believe she’s suffering from megalomania.
Nothing could be further from the truth. The plain and simple reason is she does it for the handbags. Notice that every statue of hers comes with a handbag attached. The fact of the matter is that the statue is just an accessory to the handbag. When she builds a statue of herself, with handbag, the statue merely plays the same role as that of a model walking the ramp, showing off designer handbags.
True, she could have installed statues of only handbags instead. But a handbag without a hand would be a mere bag. So you see how wronged a woman Mayawati is. No wonder she complained bitterly, “Statues are my bagbear. The depths to which the opposition can stoop to malign me baggles the imagination, the bloody baggers.” It’s also clear that Mayawati cares very little about money — if she did, the statues would be carrying
The real question is: why is Mayawati putting up statues of handbags, with herself attached to them? Ask any woman and she will tell you about the mystique and power of the handbag. Carrying a well-crafted, matching handbag does wonders for women, making them more confident, more stylish. The money in the handbag is a declaration of independence.
Ask any maidservant or a woman working in the fields what she covets most and the answer would be unequivocal — she wants to carry a handbag, just like any middle-class lady. Most importantly, it’s an aspirational symbol. Uttar Pradesh’s women look up at the statues, clutch their handbags and feel proud and liberated. Or they stare at them wistfully and work doubly hard in order to acquire one. In short, those statues are for the women of Uttar Pradesh.
Of course, there’s also the economic angle. If every woman in the state is motivated to buy a couple of handbags, think of the wonders it will do for the state’s economy. No wonder a business analyst exclaimed, “The scheme is a multi-bagger.”
But why is Mayawati so fond of bags? Perhaps as an infant she saw a woman clobbering her husband with a handbag and was much impressed. Perhaps a favourite aunt used to give her sweets from her handbag, thus permanently imprinting it as a kind of Ali Baba’s cave on the impressionable mind of a tender Mayawati. Perhaps she used to be gifted handbags by a secret admirer. Or maybe the handbag symbolises the subconscious mind, with its contents emerging from the deep, dark, secret depths of the bag. Who knows?
All that Behenji has to do to prove that she is not bothered about her statues, but cares only about the handbags, is set up lots of statues of Mulayam Singh, Rahul Gandhi and Advaniji, all carrying handbags. That will silence them.
Manas Chakravarty is Consulting Editor, Mint