Mayawati and Narendra Modi have more in common than either would care to admit. Both are imperious, autocratic, self-absorbed and as hard as nails and both inspire near universal fear and awe. Both have dominated the political landscape of 2007 by almost singlehandedly pulling off victories in Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat, confounding analysts, psephologists and astrologers.
Mayawati went into battle with history against her. No party had won an absolute majority in UP in the past three polls. Her previous record of gov ernance was far from impressive.
When, not long before the May election, Mayawati announced an ideological makeover, insisting she would represent not just Dalits but all sections of society When she made a special . effort to woo Brahmins, there were serious doubts about whether she would carry conviction. But she did. Non-Dalits joined Dalits to give her BSP a clear majority of 206 seats in the UP house of 403.
For Modi, the shadow of the post-Godhra riots appeared to cast a gloom. The entire liberal-secular lobby across the country prayed for his defeat, while his opponents had a field day labelling him and his supporters "merchants of death". But Modi offset this ‘communal' image by pointing to Gujarat's economic progress and insisted he was seeking re election on his record of governance alone.
The voter brought him back to power, ensuring that Moditva would continue for some more years.