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Mahisasur martyrdom: Mayawati’s potent weapon against BJP

BSP will play up the ‘Mahisasur martyrdom’ issue to galvanise Dalits in Uttar Pradesh which is going to the polls next year.

india Updated: Feb 27, 2016 16:09 IST
Rajesh Kumar Singh
The BSP will play up the ‘Mahisasur martyrdom’ issue to galvanise Dalits in the state going to the polls next year with party chief Mayawati setting the tone by attacking Union minister Smriti Irani for allegedly insulting lower castes
The BSP will play up the ‘Mahisasur martyrdom’ issue to galvanise Dalits in the state going to the polls next year with party chief Mayawati setting the tone by attacking Union minister Smriti Irani for allegedly insulting lower castes(PTI)

The BSP will play up the ‘Mahisasur martyrdom’ issue to galvanise Dalits in the 2017 Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections, with party chief Mayawati setting the tone by attacking Union minister Smriti Irani for allegedly insulting lower castes.

BSP sources said the party may have found a potent weapon to target the BJP which is aiming to capture power in the politically-crucial state where assembly elections are due in 2017.

“We will highlight Irani’s statement (in Parliament) as an insult to Dalits and tribals,” said a senior BSP leader.

“The Manuvadi (anti-Dalit) scholars who wrote Indian mythology have pinned Mahisasur’s faults on Dalits and tribals. The HRD minister tried to project Dalits as a community that do not respect women,” he said.

During a debate in Parliament, human resource development minister Irani had highlighted an event at JNU commemorating the martyrdom of ‘Mahisasur’, a demon-king in Indian mythology who was slain by goddess Durga. Several tribal groups in the country worship Mahisasur.

Read More| Cited Durga, Mahisasur to explain the truth: Smriti Irani to Oppn

Mayawati, who faced off with Irani over the issue in Parliament, on Friday targeted the Union minister once again for the alleged insult of Dalits, the BSP’s core vote bank.

The BSP is likely to launch a movement on the issue on March 15, the birth anniversary of party founder Kanshi Ram.

Sources said BSP workers and supporters have already started a campaign on messaging service WhatsApp and social networking sites to highlight the alleged mockery of Dalits.

Read More | In Rajya Sabha, Mayawati, Irani face off over Vemula suicide issue

“Programmes on the Mahisasur issue will be organised in Dalit-dominated villages as well as cadre camps in various districts,” the BSP leader said, adding that the party will also highlight the contribution of Dalits icons.

A few days ago, Mayawati had criticised Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Sant Ravidas temple in Varanasi and national president Amit Shah’s unveiling of Dalit king Suhel Dev statue in Bahraich.

BSP workers have been organising statewide demonstration to highlight the suicide by Dalit scholar Rohith Vemula in Hyderabad Central University.

Dalit ideologue SR Darapuri said the Mahisasur episode provided an opportunity to Mayawati to counter the BJP and to project the saffron party as an exponent of the Brahminical culture “but to what extent the party succeeds remains to be seen”.

Though the BSP lost power in the 2012 assembly elections and failed to open account in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, it is relying on ‘saravajan’ (all communities) support to make a comeback in next year’s polls.

“In 1995, the BSP planned to organise Periyar festivals across the state but sensing anger among the upper caste, Mayawati put the programme on the backburner. Mayawati knows that without the support of the upper castes she would not be able to capture power in 2017,” Darapuri added.

Read More | Centre protecting those who abetted Rohith Vemula’s suicide: Mayawati