Opinion Op Ed 24 Jul 2016 For Maya, no looking ...

For Maya, no looking back

DECCAN CHRONICLE. | AMITA VERMA
Published Jul 24, 2016, 3:22 am IST
Updated Jul 24, 2016, 7:12 am IST
This incident has helped the BSP bounce back to the centre stage of UP politics.
Members of Bahujan Samaj Party stage a protest against BJP Government and the remarks made by a suspended BJP leader against BSP leader Mayawati, in Bengaluru. (Photo: PTI)
 Members of Bahujan Samaj Party stage a protest against BJP Government and the remarks made by a suspended BJP leader against BSP leader Mayawati, in Bengaluru. (Photo: PTI)

The Bahujan Samaj Party has a unique character - it sinks in prosperity and thrives in adversity. It took just one statement by a middle ranking BJP leader for the BSP to spring back to its feet in Uttar Pradesh. Thousands came together within a matter of hours to protest against the insult heaped on their leader - a leader who had cleverly turned it into an insult to Dalit community and womankind.

For the BSP, which had been reeling under the impact of desertions by its top leaders and allegations of corruption, the incident came like the proverbial manna from heaven.

 

Almost overnight, the party successfully managed to divert the attention of its voters from the allegations to the blow to the pride of the community which invariably works as a cohesive for the community.

This incident has helped the BSP bounce back to the centre stage of UP politics and demolish the efforts being made since the past few months by the BJP to woo Dalits.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah have been focussing on the 21 per cent Dalit votes in Uttar Pradesh -addressing Dalit conferences and eating in the homes of Dalits-but they may now have to start from a scratch.

 

Knowing her nature, Ms Mayawati will now make sure throughout the election campaign that her community (especially the 56 per cent Jatavs within the Dalit category)  does not forgive or forget the manner in which she was insulted by a BJP leader and this is enough for her to keep Dalits away from the saffron fold.

However, in the over-reaction to the incident, has the BSP  also damaged its own attempts to keep the upper castes in good humour?

The slogans raised during the party's protests in Lucknow were even stronger that the party's earlier slogan 'Tilak, tarazu aur talwar, inko maro joote char' that unabashedly berated the upper castes.

 

A small time businessman who was witnessing the high drama during the BSP protests, remarked, "Today the BSP is back to where it began. It will lose upper castes but, perhaps, consolidate its Dalit vote base".

The BSP may not be able to sustain its attempt at revival since the party has upset the upper castes and non-Dalits with its behaviour, but it has definitely dealt a death blow to the BJP's social engineering concept.

Incidentally, Mayawati's political journey in 1995 began with a similar incident. The Samajwadis locked up BSP MLAs in a state guest house along with Mayawati, who was then just a representative of Kanshi Ram, and held them captive for almost 28 hours before the Mulayam Singh government was dismissed and the BSP MLAs were rescued.

 

Mayawati went on to become the first Dalit chief minister of UP with BJP support but she made sure that her voters never forget the 'atrocities' of the Samajwadis. Today, 21 years after that incident, she has maintained her hostility with the Samajwadi Party and complicated the casteist scenario in the state to an irreparable extent. With the BJP, however, Mayawati's hostility may not last very long since her legal cases pending in the Supreme Court will force her to tone down her anger. She may still opt for a post-poll alliance with the BJP if she falls short of numbers after the elections and her relationship with the BJP may or may not improve over the next few months, but the BSP president will still keep reminding her people how she was insulted by them because it is this that will keep her firmly in the saddle.

 

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