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Maya memsaab

She turns down invites from the Prime Minister, hands down diktats to party members, and listens to none. The phenomenon called Mayawati, writes Sunita Aron.

india Updated: Mar 20, 2010 23:28 IST
Sunita Aron
Sunita Aron
Hindustan Times

Just as the BSP today is a symbol of Bahujan Samaj’s dignity, Mayawati, in the opinion of intellectuals, has acquired such a standing in Indian politics wherein people may criticise her, even condemn her, but nobody can ignore her,’ Mayawati writes in her book, Mere Sangharshmay Jeevan Evam Bahujan Movement ka Safarnaama (My life of struggle and the journey of the Bahujan movement.)

The words are spot on — the smell of arrogance peppered with vengeance. Mayawati is perhaps the only chief minister in the country who turns down invites from the prime minister, challenges UPA chairman Sonia Gandhi on her turf, refuses appointments with visiting foreign dignitaries, and openly admits to running the party while her trusted bureaucrats run the government.

Unmindful of her character assassination, she treks a lonely path, befriends those whom she needs, and ruthlessly dumps poll partners midway to pick up new allies. She trusts none. Those who are in her inner circle meet none, talk to none. They follow her diktat silently. No questions, no suggestions. Her every word is Bible to them.

Queen of controversies

Mayawati accepts challenges. She courts controversies. Badri Narain Tewari, who heads the Dalit Resource Centre at Allahabad-based GB Pant Social Sciences Institute, says, “ Do you think the garland of Rs 1,000 notes was prepared without her consent? She has studied law. She promotes controversies. She knows she emerges stronger from them.”

More so, defiant supporters decide to offer her money garlands at every function. They know this will not affect her constituency consisting of Dalits. Instead, it would convince them about their power, about their progress.

What keeps her going? It’s the emotional bonding with her voters and a network of Dalit intellectuals and workers that her mentor Kanshi Ram built over the years.

The dazzling diamonds that she wears generates the hope of progress and prosperity that has eluded the Dalits in all these years.

The sting operations reveal the wealth she has amassed, but her voters believe every word written by her in her book. It is their ‘blue book’.

An angry Kalicharan Snehi, president of Lucknow University’s SC/ST Teachers’ Welfare Association says, “Leaders have been weighed in coins even in the past, but no one reacted then. Now, why is there such a hue and cry when the daughter of a Dalit has done something similar?”

Working style

As Chief Minister, Mayawati tells bureaucrats to stand in a queue to greet her, tells them to take off their shoes before entering the meeting hall at her home. As party president, she incarcerates MLAs to save them from political poaching, tells them to sit on the floor while she occupies a chair (it has changed now).

She goes for an early morning inspection of Ambedkar Udyan and memorials; she can take on the Gandhis on their home turf of Amethi and Rae Bareli and demolishes the empire of Raghuraj Pratap Singh in Kunda — fearing none, favouring none.

Few perhaps know that she keeps mobile numbers of all her party coordinators in the country. Three registers are maintained — one each in national and state party offices and one with Mayawati. She calls up office-bearers even at odd hours for first hand information about party’s mission.

The fact is that Maya’s own political dreams vests in her mission as she exhorts the Bahujan Samaj, “become the rulers and not ruled. Parliament is the temple of power. We have to get a majority so that we are not dependent on others. Capture this for your emancipation.” It is only then she can become the prime minister of the country.

Not only is she stated to be the richest politician in the country, but she also epitomises the growing political aspirations of the oppressed classes. Her adversaries don’t predict her bright political future, but they don’t even dismiss her either.

First Published: Mar 20, 2010 23:25 IST