Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati’s response to the legal hurdles
to her plans to set up Ambedkar parks and Kanshi Ram memorials was
quite brave and intelligent. A team of anti-Maya lawyers (belonging to
both BJP and Congress ideology) filed a public interest litigation in
the supreme court pleading to stop the construction.
supreme court constituted a committee, which held that there is great
danger to the environment of UP because of these parks, though they are
not polluting industries. There is not enough evidence that in order to
construct these statue-parks, they had cut down any trees at all.
on the recommendations of the experts committee, the supreme court
ordered stoppage of work at all construction sites. The court
threatened to forcefully stop the work or otherwise it would take over
the sites by deploying special armed forces. Hence the work was stopped.
within a few days, Mayawati declared that her government would build
massive Kanshi Ram green parks around Lucknow and other cities of Uttar
Pradesh. She also announced that a long stretch of green corridor would
be created on the outskirts of Lucknow. If the anti-Mayawati forces
want to cut her sovereign powers based on the democratic decision of
her cabinet (right or wrong) by using the court, she wants to assert
her power. She wants to appeal to the psychological alienation of the SC/ST masses and show them that she was bent upon creating alternative
sites of socio-spiritual satisfaction of those people by building more SC/ST-Buddhist icon parks.
After all, the SC/STs and green
environment are not enemies of each other. They did not cut down
forests to own hundreds of acres of land nor did they cut down trees to
build mansions for their comfortable living. But to see how much
teakwood is there in the houses of the every principled
environmentalist of Delhi and other cities one only needs to visit
So like Orwellian principles of ‘Animal Farm’, the
theory of even simplicity and environment changes from caste to caste
and culture to culture. Even the courts seem to be getting drawn into
this controversy. That it poses a danger to democracy needs to be seen
in future. Already the SC/ST-Bahujan masses have been losing faith in
our judicial institutions. If the courts involve in far-fetched
interpretative judicial activism in SC/ST cultural life (of statue
building or otherwise) their alienation would become more pronounced.
That does not harm Mayawati but harms democracy, rather irreparably.
is a gross mis-reading of Mayawati’s abilities to handle her own
affairs. We do not know how much money she has but she has enormous
courage and confidence. Though efforts are on to dislodge and destroy
her legally, she seems to be gaining politically.
On the one hand,
Congress is attempting to take her SC/ST and Brahmin vote-bank away and
on the other, it is attempting to project the Brahmin leadership at the
top (Rita Bahuguna Joshi, Manish Tiwari and so on). At the ground
level, it is sending Rahul Gandhi into SC/ST huts to eat with them and
sleep in their homes so that a psychological repositioning of them
could take place. But will the Congress succeed?
While all her
opponents are trying to drag her into litigations so that her
administration becomes totally dysfunctional, she seems to be gaining
strength. If a political issue is sought to be settled through the
legal means, it would have different implications to our democracy. If
Mayawati is spending money on monuments when the masses are suffering
from lack of food, education and employment, such a government should
be faced politically only.
The recent byelections in UP have shown
that her voters are not getting alienated from her. If more and more
feeling of harassment on account of Ambedkar parks is generated, then
more and more consolidation of the SC/ST vote would take place and
Mayawati will prove her opponents wrong.
She has an ideological
agenda. The rock bed of that agenda is the SC/ST social force. The BSP
from the days of Kanshi Ram has an ideological position on men and
matters. The Congress and more so, the Samajwadi Party cannot convince
the SC/STs on that count.
The Samajwadi party, in particular, has no
ideology whatsoever. The Lohia-JP ideology has no social basis. The
Muslims have no problem with her so long as she does not allow the BJP
to play round.
If Ambedkar parks that are coming up as
alternative sites of socio-spiritual culture of SC/STs are shown as
anti-democratic by the Hindu legal pundits, the SC/STs will tell them
that they will back Mayawati more and more on religious and ideological
As these parks are essentially anti-Hindu-Buddhist
monuments, she is constructing history. If they stop her activities in
the name of protection to environment, the SC/STs might feel that the
so called environmentalists have saffron threads to their wrists and
that is where they see a common ground between the BJP, the Congress
and the Samajwadi Party.