FOR BUDDHA to smile in Uttar Pradesh will take sometime as political compulsions here delay Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) supremo Mayawati’s conversion to Buddhism. Political exigency does not stop her from exploiting the tenets of Buddhism to maintain grip over her Dalit vote bank.
Mayawati has stated she would convert only after Delhi falls to her party. But the reality is otherwise. When she is desperately wooing upper caste voters, especially Brahmins, and conversion to Buddhism might lead to a counter reaction.
She knows that Dalit vote cannot guarantee BSP absolute majority in the Vidhan Sabha or kingmakers status in the Lok Sabha. Her dream to become the Prime Minister will also remain unfulfilled.
Mayawati’s move to distance herself from the conversion programme in Nagpur on October 14 reflects her pragmatism.
Mayawati assured party members that she would conduct everything as prescribed by Buddhism. “The last rites of Kanshi Ram was performed according to Buddhist rites and I had renamed several districts after Buddha,” she said.
Vice-president of Dr Ambedkar Mahasabha Dr SR Darapuri said, “On conversion she will have to shun Brahmanism as basic tenets of Buddhism go against Hinduism. This will upset her dream to capture power in UP”.
Darapuri added, “If she is really committed to Ambedkar’s mission then conversion to Buddhism and maintaining distance from Brahmanism should be on the top her agenda. She is merely using Buddhism as a political fodder.”
Buddhist Monk Sthavir G Pragyanand, who along with four other Buddhist monks gave ‘diksha’ (initiation) to Ambedkar in 1956, told HT, “To widen its base religion requires political support. If Mayawati and her cadre convert, Buddhism will spread far and wide.”
Pragyananda has discussed the issue with Mayawati, “but political compulsions does not allow her to do so”, he rued.