BJP’s presidential masterstroke dashes Maya’s dreams | opinion$Comment | Hindustan Times
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BJP’s presidential masterstroke dashes Maya’s dreams

The BJP has killed two birds with one stone. First it has derailed the opposition’s move to unite before the 2019 elections. Second, it has punctured the ‘political empowerment’ movement of the BSP, hitting it hard for the second time after the 2017 UP elections.

opinion Updated: Jun 27, 2017 12:37 IST
Bihar governor and NDA’S presidential candidate Ram Nath Kovind in Patna, June 19, 2017
Bihar governor and NDA’S presidential candidate Ram Nath Kovind in Patna, June 19, 2017(PTI)

Bahujan Samaj Party founder president late Kanshi Ram and his protégé Mayawati had dreamt of giving India its first Dalit prime minister. That they could not do. However, the BJP stole a march over them by nominating a seasoned Dalit leader for the highest constitutional post – President of India.

The calculated move to give the country its second SC president , 15 years after the country had its first Dalit President KR Narayanan, has put the Opposition on the back foot, demolishing their fragile unity, much before it could be built up.

Several regional forces, including the champions of Dalits, the BSP, will not oppose Ram Nath Kovind’s ascendancy to the president’s post.

Thus the BJP has killed two birds with one stone. First it has again derailed the Opposition’s ambitious move to unite before the 2019 general elections. Second, it has punctured the ‘political empowerment’ movement of the BSP, hitting it hard for the second time after the 2017 UP elections.

Kanshi Ram and Mayawati were like dream merchants who ingeniously sold aspirations to their clan to ‘become rulers and not ruled’ for getting their unstinted support in electoral battles. Their clarion call has always been, “Parliament is the temple of power. We have to get majority so that we are not dependent on others. Capture this for your emancipation.”

As the BSP was the only Dalit-led party in the country, Mayawati filled the vacuum caused by the demise of former deputy Prime Minister Jagjivan Ram as no other leader, including his daughter and former Speaker of the Lok Sabha Meira Kumar, could walk or talk the language with which their clan could identify with.

Many of those bred in the city questioned her style of dressing and talking, but her caste related more with the acid-tongued Mayawati than to the sombre Meira Kumar. This is one reason why even after the Congress propped up Meira Kumar, Mayawati remained the country’s tallest Dalit leader, dashing the dreams of the grand old party to allure Dalits back to the party fold.

However, while Mayawati reached the portals of power in UP, she failed to take her constituency on the path of progress. She gave parks and statues in the form of dignity to them but wasted an opportunity to spread wings in the country after her party’s euphoric victory in 2007.

But Dalits of today aspire for more than dignity even though the BJP’s rise to power has brought back the ghost of untouchability.

In this background the BJP has played a master stroke, dashing the Congress’ hopes of Dalits returning to the party fold from a weakened Mayawati, and her own expectations of retaining them now that a Rajput leads Uttar Pradesh.

Her visit to caste clash-hit Saharanpur had surprised her own cadres as she is infamous for keeping away from any troubled spot, including Muzaffarnagar, since the 2007 victory of her party.

Simultaneously, the BJP has also shed its upper caste image and broad-based the Hindutva fold by bringing in Dalits and OBCs of the country in its fold.

The Sangh Parivar had started their ambitious move of ‘solidifying’ Hindus way back in 1989 when Kameshwar, a Dalit, had laid the foundation stone of the Ram temple in Ayodhya and again in 2002 the shiladaan was also done by two Dalits.

In her bid to safeguard the Bahujan Samaj from the Sangh Parivar’s brand of Hindutva, Mayawati belligerently invoked Ambedkar and his ideology and encouraged embracing of Buddhism.

After the Ayodhya issue started petering off, the RSS cadres intensified their activities in Dalit bastis while their leadership went on a Dalit bhoj spree that was symbolic, yet impactful.

And now ahead of 2019 elections, the BJP has emerged as the new champion of Bahujan Samaj by giving a backward caste PM and a Dalit president, derailing Mayawati’s claim, “Just as BSP today is a symbol of Bahujan Samaj’s dignity, Mayawati, in the opinion of intellectuals, has acquired a standing in Indian politics where in people may criticise her, even condemn her, but nobody can ignore her.’

However, now Mayawati’s brand value has nosedived. What political brinkmanship!

saron@hindustantimes.com