Mayawati needs good captains, not loyal lieutenants
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Mayawati needs good captains, not loyal lieutenants

After her resignation from the Rajya Sabha, Mayawati is now in the epicentre of Dalit politics.

columns Updated: Jul 24, 2017 12:08 IST
Mayawati,Rajya Sabha,Bahujan Samaj Party
BSP chief Mayawati addressing the media in New Delhi, July 18. (PTI)

That astonishing moment suddenly gained shape in the Rajya Sabha last Tuesday. Deputy Chairman PJ Kurien had allowed Mayawati three minutes to speak on the issue of atrocities on Dalits. She needed more time but the deputy chairman did not agree. This made her furious and she walked out after saying: “How can I not be allowed to speak on issues about the section of society where I come from? If I cannot place the issue of Dalit atrocities before the Parliament, then I don’t have a moral right to continue in Parliament.”

Still, the deputy speaker clarified the next day and asked her to withdraw her resignation. Mayawati did not agree and finally her resignation was accepted. Did she do it on impulse or in a moment of anger? It may be the case, but she is supposed to be a seasoned politician. So, it will be seen as a well-thought-out strategy where she has very smartly used the monsoon session of Parliament to her own benefit.

If you glance at Mayawati’s career graph you’ll discover that after the initial setbacks she has rapidly risen up the ladder of success. She became the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh four times. This is a record that she shares with giants such as Chandra Bhanu Gupta and Narayan Dutt Tiwari. During this period she very cleverly and successfully pushed both the BJP and the Congress to the margins. Till May 2012, Uttar Pradesh was traversing its political journey in the Tamil Nadu mode. The way the ball was either with Jayalalithaa or M Karunanidhi, in a similar manner, the fight for power was always between the SP and the BSP. In the last Lok Sabha polls, by fighting elections from Uttar Pradesh, Narendra Modi dismantled this combination that had flourished since 1989. As a result, the BSP tally contracted to just 19 seats. So a few MLAs cannot help Mayawati reach the Rajya Sabha once again. Who is responsible for this fall from grace?

If the party’s success came because of Mayawati, she also has to take the responsibility for its failure. In 2007, after becoming chief minister for the fourth time, her advisors told Mayawati her life was in danger. Her security ring was tightened so much that if you went to meet her, you had to pass through a security apparatus more elaborate than even the Prime Minister. It could be true that there is a real danger to her life, but all this began alienating the Bahujan Samaj.

It wasn’t as if she wanted to ignore them. That is why Mayawati had formed a cadre-based party. It was the responsibility of party workers to help the common man’s voice reach middle-rung leaders and they in turn were answerable for helping these problems reach the top leadership. But this chain was broken. The reason? Most of the party’s tickets began to be reserved for the well-heeled. Dalits, minorities and backwards could not relate to these candidates despite being from the same caste. This gave the party’s critics an opportunity to say that tickets were being sold in the BSP. This happened despite those levelling the allegations never furnishing the evidence to back this claim.

Earlier Mayawati used to condemn dynastic politics. To achieve her mission, she did not even start a family of her own but over a period of time her brother’s interference in the party and governance began increasing. Now Mayawati’s nephew is spotted with her on political platforms. During this time grassroots leaders such as Nasimuddin Siddiqui, Babu Singh Kushwaha and Swami Prasad Maurya deserted her. Some of them levelled such allegations that tarnished the party’s image.

Clearly, to retain her lost clout, Mayawati had to take shake off the image she has these days. The incidents in Saharanpur have given her this opportunity. After her resignation from the Rajya Sabha, Mayawati is now in the epicentre of Dalit politics. The BJP’s efforts to woo Dalits to its camp have received a setback. Meanwhile, with a proposal to send her to the Rajya Sabha, Lalu Yadav has indicated the emergence of a new polarisation. Will the next few days see an anti-Modi alliance take shape? If it happens, you’ll see Mayawati in a central role there.

An old saying in the army goes: There are two type of officers — loyal lieutenants and good captains. You need loyal lieutenants for a dictatorship and good captains to win a war. At one time Mayawati was Kanshi Ram’s good captain. But she groomed loyal lieutenants. Now Mayawati needs good captains. Will she find them?

Shashi Shekhar is editor-in-chief Hindustan

First Published: Jul 23, 2017 18:16 IST