No successor, it’s all Maya | india | Hindustan Times
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No successor, it’s all Maya

Mayawati is well aware that if the Dalits desert her, other castes will leave her just as quickly. It is her unique capacity to ‘transfer’ Dalit votes that is the envy and awe of other political leaders.

india Updated: Aug 21, 2008 00:58 IST
M Hasan

Ever since Mayawati announced that she had not only decided who would succeed her, but also written his name down and placed it in sealed envelopes which she had entrusted to her confidantes, speculation about who this person might be has been at fever pitch.

The speculation, however, is limited to political circles outside the BSP. Within the party, curiously, there is very little debate or excitement. They know that, at 53, Mayawati is young by the standards of Indian politicians and is likely to remain their supreme leader for a very long time. Till then the question of who will succeed her is redundant. Besides, they not too sure if they should believe her. Mayawati, in public speeches, has referred to her ‘successor’ several times in the past as well, always emphasising that the person would belong not just to the Dalit, but to the Jatav (or Chamar) community. The only difference this time is the twist of the sealed envelope.

“All this talk about a Dalit successor is to reassure Behenji’s Dalit constituency that their primacy in the BSP will remain,” explained a senior BSP leader, not wishing to be named. Mayawati has been reaching to castes other than Dalit, particularly Brahmins, aggressively in recent years: it is main reason for her electoral success in the last assembly poll. The BSP could never hope to win power on its own on the strength of Dalit support alone.

But Mayawati’s hobnobbing has created disquiet amid her core constituency, the Dalits. Many Dalits continue to hold Brahminical intelligence — which they prefer to call ‘cunning’ — in exaggerated awe.

Mayawati is well aware that if the Dalits desert her, other castes will leave her just as quickly. It is her unique capacity to ‘transfer’ Dalit votes that is the envy and awe of other political leaders. The periodic references to a successor, who would be a Dalit, are thus only meant to reassure Dalits that no matter which other castes or communities Mayawati woos, Dalits will continue to hold sway over the party.