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The teacher makes political history
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May 11, 2007 15:31 IST
It has been a rugged yet eventful road to success for teacher-turned-politician Mayawati, who is expected to assume the office of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister for the fourth time.

Significantly, she will create the record of being the first woman to be UP's chief minister as many as four times.

She was also the first Dalit woman to don the UP CM's mantle the first time 12 years ago.

Mayawati has been the leading light of the Bahujan Samaj Party, a party which has steadily become a political force to reckon with in the Hindi heartland.

The death of her mentor, BSP founder Kanshi Ram, last year dealt a blow to the party, but Mayawati, who was accused in several scams during her last regime, put behind all the odds to lead the party to success in the assembly poll.

Her new social engineering -- a Dalit-Brahmin combine for the first time in UP politics -- achieved a clear distinction and defeated all competing political combinations and permutations.

Mayawati was born on January 15, 1956 in Delhi where her father Prabhudayal was employed as a supervisor with the Post and Telegraph department. However, the family traces its roots to Baadalpur village of the then Bulandshahar and now Ghaziabad district of UP.

The BSP president did a major part of her education in Delhi.

She did an BA and LLB from Kalindi College at Delhi University and later took a BEd degree from Delhi University. During her student life, Mayawati was an active participant in several debate competitions and student movements.

Between 1977 and 1984, Mayawati taught at various schools run by the Delhi administration. She left teaching in 1984 and joined Kanshi Ram, who had by then floated a non-political outfit, the Backward and Minority Communities Employees Federation, and the DS-4, another organisation set up to look after the interests of Dalits and Backward castes.

With the establishment of the BSP on April 14, 1984 began her political career. As a BSP candidate, she contested her first Lok Sabha election from Kairana (Muzaffarnagar) in December 1984, but could not win. She then contested the Lok Sabha by-election to Bijnor and Hardwar in 1985 and 1987 respectively. She stood second with 1.39 lakh votes in the Hardwar by-election.

She was elected to the Lok Sabha for the first time in 1989 from the Bijnor seat. In 1994, she was elected to the Rajya Sabha from Uttar Pradesh.

Her party supported the Samajwadi Party in government formation in UP during 1993. But with time, their relations soured. The nadir of their mutual and lasting recrimination was reached when goons, allegedly sponsored by the Samajwadi Party, attacked Mayawati at the state guest house in Lucknow on June 2, 1995.

Mayawati escaped unhurt and became chief minister for the first time with the Bharatiya Janata Party's support on June 3, 1995. She stayed in the post only till October that year as the political alliance between the BSP and BJP came to an abrupt end.

The story of her political success continued as she was elected both from Bilsi (Badaun) and Haraura (Saharanpur) seats during the 1996 UP assembly election. She later resigned the Bilsi seat and retained Haraura.

A new political marriage between the BSP and the BJP was forged, which resulted in a unique government formation in 1997 with an agreement that both parties would have its own chief minister by rotation for six months each.

Under the deal, she was sworn in as chief minister on March 21, 1997, earning her the distinction of becoming a woman chief minister of the state twice.

At the end of her six-month tenure, Mayawati withdrew support from the coalition government, saying the Dalit Act had not been properly implemented in the state.

It was during this stand-off between the two parties that the infamous brickbatting case inside the UP assembly occurred on October 18, 1997.

The BSP leader won both the 1998 and 1999 Lok Sabha elections from the Akbarpur (reserved) seat in Ambedkarnagar district, UP.

Her third tenure as UP chief minister commenced on May 3, 2002 but abruptly ended on July 25, 2003 after the Taj Heritage Corridor scam surfaced.

The Supreme Court ordered a Central Bureau of Investigation probe into the controversy. Later, the apex court also ordered a probe into the alleged disproprionate assets of Mayawati and her family.

She won the Ambedkarngar seat in the 2004 Lok Sabha election, but resigned in 2005. She was later elected to the Rajya Sabha.

After she relinquished the chief minister's post, Mayawati was once again in the heart of controversy when Kanshi Ram's family fought a legal battle against her.

While the family wanted to take Kanshi Ram, then ailing in hospital, away from her, she continued to look after her mentor and did not allow his family to take his body even after his death last October.

Mayawati constructed the sprawling Ambedkar Park and Parivartan chowk in Lucknow and starting the Ambedkar Gram Vikas Yojna during her previous tenures as chief minister. However, she is recalled with apprehension by some in the media and bureaucratic circles who describe her as 'dictatorial and whimsical in nature'.

Notwithstanding the past, Mayawati, with the reins of Uttar Pradesh once again in her hands, will need to ensure much-wanted political stability and sustainable development in India's most populous and politically most significant state.

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