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The Elephant is running on the expressway
May 04, 2009
In Mayawati's [Images] journey from Lucknow [Images] to Delhi, she has taken all kinds of people along with her, who want us to believe that the BSP is taking a big leap forward. Mayawati has left behind even her mentor Kanshi Ram in her social engineering experiments.
Arya Samaj followers do not believe in religious rituals, caste, creed etc. It is obvious and understandable that when a political party like the BSP opens up, all kinds of people will jump in. Bhardwaj even declares that the ideologies of the BSP and Arya Samaj are the same!
Amarpal Sharma, the BSP candidate from Ghaziabad, didn't venture out to file his nomination till the stars took their destined positions to favour him. Of course, one is aware that the BSP can't surge ahead with its original philosophy.
Parties do encounter a turning point when they are compelled to shed their thinking for a while.
In this journey, people who haven't contributed even a penny to the BSP's kitty have joined in. If you add the gross assets of just some of the BSP's crorepati candidates, then the figure crosses Rs 5,000 crores (Rs 50 billion). The turnover of the companies of D S Kulkarni, the BSP candidate from Pune, is over Rs 1,800 crore (Rs 18 billion).
Malook Nagar, the BSP candidate from Meerut, owns a dairy products empire while Surendra Sinh Nagar, the BSP candidate from Gautam Buddha Nagar, is the owner of the Paras milk brand worth Rs 1,000 crore (Rs 10 billion).
The common factor among these BSP candidates is both of them live in posh areas in Delhi. Surendra Sinh Nagar lives in New Friends Colony, one of the poshest residential colonies of New Delhi, while Malook Nagar lives in Vasant Vihar, a classical colony of old money and has claimed that his home in Vasant Vihar is worth only Rs 1.25 crores (Rs 12.5 million).
Now, these same neighbourhoods are filled with sounds of Jai Ho, Mayawati. It is not for nothing that Surendra Nagar said that Mayawati is a bigger brand than Paras milk.
To make sense of this change we should look at it from both perspectives. The Nagars are the New Rich, who have not made the transition to the sophisticated upper class yet. The business of procuring, bottling and distributing milk is intimately connected to the heartland.
Tanwar may reside in a fancy farmhouse, but his land and projects are on the dusty and rough outskirts of New Delhi. He runs charities and distributes free medicines, so he has goodwill among the people. Since he is rich he was useful to parties like the BJP and Congress as well.
What the BSP did was a smart thing. It offered partnership to the rich. In the BJP and Congress the New Rich were merely known as 'party supporters.'
This is a big change. And, this has changed the face of the BSP. Industrialists are given a warm welcome here. They move in openly with their Audis, Prados and Land Cruisers and openly flaunt their wealth.
Is the BSP gaining anything out of this? One assumes that if any of these moneybags win the election then their VHP background or their weaknesses will not count or may not be questioned, but if they lose then the BSP will have to rethink its idea of broadening its social base by the inclusion of sarvajan (everyone).
How long can you keep up social engineering without the maturing of basic thought? The BSP prides itself on the loyalty and commitment of its poor workers, but can you depend as much on the New Rich? Are they faithful?
Mayawati wants numbers. She has ruled Lucknow four times, now she is raring to rule the country. Her elephant is running on the express highway, there is no scope to apply the brakes now, that's why she is forced to call Mukhtar Ansari the messiah of the poor.
The BSP is growing and in the party some people are becoming bigger than the BSP.
Ravish Kumar, an award-winning journalist, is a features editor at NDTV-India