Mayawati: Daughter of Dalits or modern day Marie Antoinette?

| Updated: Feb 11, 2017 00:37 IST

By Kamna Hajela Lucknow [India], Feb. 10 (ANI): One would think that Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) supremo Mayawati, whose very bedrock of campaigning has been the upliftment of the Dalit community, would try to appear as the daughter of the earth, but when looked very carefully, "Behen ji" seems to be surrounded by an impenetrable aura, dripping with elitism. Marie Antoinette, who was the last Queen of France prior to the French Revolution, was beloved by the nation in her early years. However, as time flew by, her high-class lifestyle and unattainable status, especially when the nation experienced a terrible famine, brought about her downfall. Mayawati, who has achieved something of a cult status with her "pro-Dalit" agenda, appears to be hurtling towards a similar, albeit not so ghastly, fate. When regional parties came into existence in Uttar Pradesh, the political agenda was centred around class and caste politics, and it was during that time that the BSP rose to power. Inspired by the principles of Dr. Baba Saheb Ambedkar and armed with the slogan of upliftment for Dalits, the BSP established itself as a force to reckon with in Uttar Pradesh politics. After party founder Kanshi Ram, Mayawati took over the reins and led its struggles for securing rights for Dalits, which soon turned her into a household name. However, her meteoric rise did not change anything for Dalits. While the poverty stricken class still dwells in slums, the "voice of the voiceless" started living in a bungalow fit for a queen, was greeted with wreaths of money and imported sandals to beautify her feet. The very woman who spoke of equality, started creating a class differentiation in her own party, which gave rise to an important question: Does "Behen ji", who used to fight for the rights and equality of the Dalits, now consider herself above others? The differentiation came to the fore during a recent press conference of "Kaumi Ekta Dal" and BSP, where Mayawati could be seen in sandals while fellow party worker Afzal Ansari and his family came bare feet. This incident is just one of the many, besides her finicky need for cleanliness and ordering things, especially white linens, from the national capital, that raises a pertinent question: Why is "Dalit ki Beti" (daughter of Dalits) now called " Daulat ki Beti" (daughter of wealth)? According to Dr Lalji Prasad Nirmal, Chief of the Ambedkar Mahasabha, which champions Dalit causes, Mayawati has in no way embraced the ideals of Dr. Ambedkar in creating equality for Dalits. "Dr. Ambedkar used to stay awake from 12 a m-12 p m for the upliftment of his people. When once asked why so, he replied "I stay awake for my people to sleep peacefully". On the contrary, Mayavati has done nothing of the sort for Dalits as yet. She has even diluted the Schedule Caste Atrocity Act. Dr. Ambedkar never wanted dissolution of caste, but Mayawati's committees have weakened them to such an extent, that today, even the Dalits have many different castes and creeds among them, which has only created hatred between them," Dr Nirmal said. Citing the example of the Qaumi Ekta Dal's press conference, Dr. Nirmal further asserted that the incident was an eye-opener for those who saw Mayawati as the voice of the oppressed. "Those who follow Dr. Ambedkar, follow his 22 strict disciplines of life, while Mayawati believes in her own ideals. Dr.Ambedkar once said that nobody can point a finger on his character as he has never been involved in any financial irregularity. What Mayawati has done in that context is a well known fact," he added. According to Dalit activist and ex-DGP S.S. Darapuri, Mayawati is one of those leaders who enjoys the perks that go with being at top of the political ladder, while their work ethics and behaviour reek of dictatorship. "Even though she comes from a very poor family, Mayawati has completely forgotten her roots post her rise to power. She has encashed this to the fullest and whenever fingers are pointed at her, she has escaped the ramifications by calling herself a "Dalit ki beti". But the fact remains that no Dalit is ever allowed to meet her. Dr. Ambedkar was against idol worshipping but Mayawati is hell bent on putting up her own idols across the city. The activist also pointed out that the upper class of Dalits such as the Jatavs, Pasis, Dhobis and Balmikis, who have been her chief vote bank from 1993-2007, have been trying to dodge and avoid her in UP Legislative Assembly elections from 2012. From SAPA, there were only 25 MLAs and from the Jatav, which was her own home ground, a huge portion rose against her, as a result of which the BJP emerged with a larger seat share. Those in her inner circle have often claimed that Mayawati refuses to associate herself with or even acknowledge those who helped her gain political strength in the beginning of her career. According to an ex-BSP member and current BJP activist Brijesh Pathak, Mayawati is one of those who only cares about her political position and has no concern for the general masses. Her queen-like lifestyle has resulted in many of her supporters abandoning or opposing her. Samajwadi Party leader Juhi Singh stated that Mayawati could never stand true to the expectations of the Dalits, thanks to her undemocratic and dictatorial demeanour. "Only a handful of members run the administration and whoever leaves her party, condemns her for taking money as bribe for tickets. I do not consider her a mass leader and even the Dalit community does not see her as one of their own. I don't think a person who shows herself as a princess can reflect as a mass leader for very long," Singh stated. Several Congress and BJP leaders have even made a spectacle out of dining and talking with the poor in their dilapidating abode, but the BSP supremo has not even made such an attempt in a while. Even though Mayawati remains a political heavyweight and is very much a threat to her opponents in Uttar Pradesh, her 'touch-me-not' attitude towards the masses, especially the Dalits, could eventually result in her own ruin.(ANI)