Let’s face it. Mayawati drives us mad. Us? Who’s ‘Us’? Oh…. us is us. People who count. Thought leaders. Opinion makers.
Bull shitters. People still living in some la-la land, imagining we are important. Get real, guys. Before you can say ‘Kanshi Ram’, Mayawati will be on that kursi in Dilli. The same one her foes are determined to keep her ample backside away from. And if perchance Mayawati’s derriere does occupy the gaddi, God help those foes. Mayawati will whack their butts with that handbag of hers, whip their asses, and then the asli fun will start. Why does Mayawati bug us so much?
Is it her appearance? Come on. There are worse looking women in politics. Is it her coarse tongue? Her crude language? Or is it something else? Something entirely silly and superficial? Do we despise her because Mayawati is a social embarrassment? Is that why the chattering classes recoil and exclaim, “She cannot possibly become India’s Prime Minister! My goodness, can you imagine her winning and dining Sarko and Carla? Or meeting Gordon Brown? Even worse, what will Michelle think of those arms?”
Sounds ridiculous, right? But isn’t there some truth in it? Mayawati makes us cringe because we can’t handle her rustic personality and her lack of sophistication. Nobody would want someone with that profile in his living room. What of the social barometer? Their ratings on the party circuit? What if she slurped tea from a saucer? Or dunked a biscut into the
brew? Forget wine-shine, cheese-weese. What on earth does one serve her? Conversation? Don’t make us laugh…
Sounds horrible. But scratch the surface, and that’s the sort of stuff you’ll get. Nothing to do with ideology. It’s not about Dalits. It’s not even about gender. It has to do with class. Not caste.Which is precisely the reason why the chattering classes may end up with lots of egg on their faces. The next elections are unambiguously about caste. Deal with it. Class does not enter the picture. And when it comes to cashing in on caste, Mayawati’s trajectory is hard to match. She gets it. She has always got it. She knows her USP. And she knows just how to address her constituency — the words, the language, the appearance. That is her.
Corruption is a non-issue in these polls. Is there even a single politician who can claim to be clean — and prove it? So, holding Mayawati up as the Queen of Corruption will hardly dent her chances. Nor will pointing out the many charges against her. There are no saints in the line-up. Nobody minds. Nobody can. Sleeping with the enemy? Forging perverse alliances? Ditto. Then why does everybody hate her so much? How is Mayawati any worse than the others in the race: Pawar? Chandrababu? Deve Gowda? Or the other ‘teen deviyan’: Mamata, Jayalalithaa and Sonia?
Will she sell India down the drain? No more than the rest. But that is not the concern of drawing room analysts, is it? What we want to know is will she change that awful handbag to a Ferragamo? Will she hire Abu-Sandeep or Manish Malhotra to redesign that dreadful wardrobe? Discard Polyester? Switch to Chikankaari? Will Jimmy Choo replace her rexin sandals?
Even if she cannot smell of roses, could someone please present her with a flacon of Chanel? And would Mickey Contractor with his team kindly volunteer their services and give the lady a makeover? This is the age of designer politicians. Alas, with all the efforts in the world, Maya can never become a Memsaab. That is both her curse and redemption.
But she could become the PM. Drown yourselves in Dom, guys.
(Shobhaa De’s latest book is Superstar India: From Incredible to Unstoppable)