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Home > India > News > Columnists > Nazarwala

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How Behenji became Madame Mayawati

January 14, 2009

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Uttar Pradesh [Images] Chief Minister Mayawati [Images] turns 53 on January 15, and as usual her government will go all out to turn the celebrations into a huge political statement ahead of the general election. On the eve of her birthday, Nazarwala, a long-time Mayawati watcher who predicted a sweep for her in the 2007 assembly election, traces the decline of a mass leader.
Mayawati is a complex-ridden Dalit dictator.

Her father is a typical poor villager who had a large family to feed and bring up.

He struggled to make both ends meet. Mayawati is his beloved daughter who has succeeded in life beyond his wildest dream.

Mayawati had dreams of becoming an IAS officer. She always dreamt big.

Kanshi Ram spotted the fire in Mayawati. He advised her to become an activist, and work for the Dalit cause with missionary zeal.

He saw her potential, and gradually moulded her into a leader of the Dalit masses.

He explained to her the advantage of entering politics wherein he saw her controlling the masses and bringing about a better quality of life for oppressed Dalits all over India.

She could consequently have immense 'control' over hundreds of IAS officers, he reassured her. She agreed and worked with single-minded devotion and commitment.

Gradually, Kanshi Ram grew in strength and political stature. With him, also grew his team of dedicated workers. Mayawati led the pack.

Mayawati was very effective and ruthless in implementing her mentor's plans and policies. Her dictatorial streak came in handy to crush unwanted opponents.

Thousand upon thousands of Dalit masses traversed several miles on foot and rickety bicycles to listen to their hero Kanshi Ram.

His disciple Mayawati was affectionately called behenji (sister) by one and all.

They trusted the duo implicitly and pledged absolute loyalty to them.

Kanshi Ram had sacrificed his family for the much larger, extended Indian Dalit family. Unmindful of his own comforts and health, he set records in cycling day and night and criss-crossing all over UP.

Mayawati was extremely devoted to her mentor. She also worked long hours and, exhausted, she would often doze off in the party office.

A time came when she started living in the same house with Kanshi Ram.

The relationship was respected by the fond and indulgent Dalits who saw nothing objectionable in it. For them, Mayawati was their most respected behenji. Period.

She was by her mentor's side as he lay dying in hospital. She nursed him and his Dalit constituency with single-minded devotion and ambition.

After his death, behenji took over the Bahujan Samaj Party's reins. As in the past, she continued being in and out of the UP chief minister's chair.

She had untrammelled sway and power over the Dalit masses. She was blindly trusted and their votes went to her BSP's 'Elephant' symbol in each election with increasing solidarity.

During the 2007 assembly elections they voted her to power with a thumping majority.

Newsweek even declared her as one of the most powerful women in the world.

With a record of four terms as UP chief minister, shouldn't behenji start dreaming and seriously aspiring for the prime minister's chair?

The Dalits cheered her all along the way and pledged unflinching support to their beloved leader. They identified themselves totally with her, and wished to see her installed as the first Dalit prime minister of India.

This adulation and blind faith went to Mayawati's head. Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts completely. She was no exception.

Whereas the illiterate and trusting Dalit masses saw a future PM in their behenji, Mayawati saw a vote-bank in them.

She also saw money in her Dalit vote bank.

Born into deprivation, she is insecure where money is concerned and wants to grab it all. She is street smart, and knows how to collect it on one pretext or the other.

Celebrating her birthday and using it as a valid excuse to demand expensive gifts of cash, gold, diamonds and platinum does not embarrass her.

In fact, she enjoys flaunting her blue diamond rings to inspire other deprived Dalits to emulate her 'success story'.

Spotting a new niche, and sensing the financial potential, behenji thought of converting her limited financial assets into assets.

The Supreme Court and Central Bureau of Investigation may wonder how and why, but Mayawati thinks she can go on like this forever. The Congress is scheming to sting her shortly in the disproportionate assets case.

Such assets were amassed possibly only when she apparently conceived and decided to auction her solid chunk of trusting Dalit votes to the most suitable bidder. Rather, than the most opportunist politician in exchange for her transferable Dalit vote bank during polls.

Behenji shrewdly commoditised those Dalit votes. Indeed, in their helplessness, the Dalits now also find themselves hapless.

They had been imperceptibly transformed into Dalit vote bank cheques without their consent by the magician Mayawati.

They had trusted their beloved behenji and would never go back. Little did they suspect otherwise.

She had cleverly exploited this Dalit herd and bartered it away for petty power and pelf.

Overnight, behenji has metamorphosed into a madame.

Mayawati's role model, Indira Gandhi [Images], hated to be addressed as 'madame'. But Mayawati gloats over the fact that she has graduated from an ordinary behenji into 'madame'.

Nowadays everyone in UP from the IAS down to the chowk ruffians refer to behenji as 'madame'.

How long the captive Dalits will reconcile with their tragedy is anybody's guess.


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