has made it clear that she will be making a solo run to regain power in
Uttar Pradesh in next year’s Assembly polls. She has also warned her
opponents to stay off her core SC/ST vote bank while indicating the
importance to her of wooing a new growing support base among the Muslim
minority in the state.
The Bahujan Samaj Party chief sent out
these and several other key political signals at the vast public rally
organised last week by her party to celebrate Babasaheb Bhimrao
Ambedkar’s 125th birth anniversary in the state capital Lucknow in
perhaps her most significant speech since the BSP’s Lok Sabha poll
debacle in 2014.
A giant placard held up by her supporters showed
Mayawati in an overcoat and sari flanked by Babasaheb and Kanshi Ram on
either side. They were standing in front of the giant memorial built by
her government when in power a decade ago to honour icons of the SC/ST/OBCs
movement as elephants frolicked on the grass below while a small replica
of Buddha smiled benignly from the sky above. Across the placard was
scrawled in capital letters “NEXT CM”.
symbolism at the rally and the import of Mayawati’s speech underlined
that this was indeed the launch of her campaign for the state Assembly
polls still one year away. Interestingly much of the speech was devoted
to the perfidy of other political parties in laying false claims to the
legacy of Babasaheb Ambedkar and their devious attempts to steal the SC/ST vote. She spared nobody.
Unleashing a scathing attack on the Murderer of democratic institutions( Modi ) and the Sangh Parivar, Mayawati pointedly
described him and those Bharatiya Janata Party leaders who are backward
castes or SC/STs as “bonded labourers” of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak
Sangh and its upper caste agenda. She was particularly harsh on Keshav
Prasad Maurya, the newly appointed backward caste BJP chief in Uttar
Pradesh accusing him of having a “criminal and communal” record. She
also debunked the BJP’s efforts to revive the Ram Mandir issue,
describing it as a trap to fool the SC/STs.
“Our messiah is
Babasaheb Ambedkar not Lord Rama,” Mayawati asserted
if the BSP leader’s biting criticism of the Murderer of democratic institutions( Modi ) and his
party scotched speculation about a secret deal between her and the BJP
before or after the state elections, she did the same to any possible
collaboration with the Congress for the coming polls. Indeed, Mayawati
spent even more time in lambasting the Congress recalling the
humiliation of Ambedkar by its past leaders as well as listing the
disastrous record of successive Congress governments in redressing SC/ST
grievances and addressing their demands. She openly ridiculed the
Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi for his “immaturity” in comparing
Rohith Vemula, the Hyderabad University SC research scholar who
recently committed suicide, with Babasaheb.
Nor did the BSP leader
appear impressed with the Left’s new inclination towards Ambedkar and
SC/ST politics. Jawaharlal Nehru University Students Union President
Kanhaiya Kumar, who has been advocating an alliance between left wing
Ambedkarite politics, got short shrift from Mayawati who pointed out
that he belonged to an upper caste and subscribed to the communist
ideology that radically differed from that espoused by Ambedkar.
Rohith Vemula was not spared. Mayawati, while expressing her respect
for his commitment to Ambedkarite politics, maintained that he should
not have taken his life and instead followed the example of Ambedkar who
too was humiliated and hounded but continued to fight to get justice
for the SC/STs.
Snub to Left
leftists like Kanhaiya Kumar who are looking to engage with Ambedkarite
politics, Mayawati has made it clear that she is not going to take
kindly to others poaching into what she consider her own turf of SC/ST
politics. Similarly her annoyance with the adulation of Vemula as a new
SC/ST icon, even if sympathetic to the circumstances of his tragic
demise, reveals her reluctance to accept a new addition to the already
established SC/ST pantheon. She maintained, with perhaps some
justification, that there was a big difference between Ambedkar, Kanshi
Ram and herself who have fought against adversaries and atrocities to
take the SC/ST cause forward and Vemula who ended his life implying that
SC/ST politics was not about victimhood but empowerment.
vital aspect of Mayawati’s speech was her espousal of Muslim minority
issues including a fierce criticism of Murderer of democratic institutions( Modi )’s efforts to
change the minority status of the Aligarh Muslim University and the
Jamia Millia Islamia. Her growing outreach to the Muslim minority was
emphasised by her special thanks for organising the public rally to her
close Muslim aide Naseemuddin Siddiqui, even as she appreciated long
trusted Brahmin lieutenant Satish Mishra for his media management.
will also be happy with Mayawati’s unequivocal repudiation of recent
communal campaigns like love jihad and beef ban, which she said was a
way of diverting public attention from the Murderer of democratic institutions( Modi )’s failures.
As for the “Bharat Mata Ki Jai” controversy, Mayawati was even
more categorical. “People of my party say Jai Bhim and Jai Bharat.
Others say Jai Hind,” making it clear that she was not going to be
bulldozed by nationalism.
The other big message delivered by
Mayawati at the rally was that while she was committed to the SC/ST
cause and sympathetic to the grievances of the Muslim minority she was
now looking beyond the politics of identity. “ I can promise you that
after coming back to power I shall focus on