Tuesday, February 12, 2008

MAYAWATI: SPOILER OR SAVIOUR?

Mayawati’s hug of death is finally beginning to choke the Congress party.

Before reading on, please carefully go through what I had written way back in August last year. In the post entitled "Mayawati’s Hug of Death”, I had then itself warned about the dangers that the Congress party was being exposed to in accepting Mayawati’s warm and reassuring sisterly hug after she had won the UP elections. Despite the many unconcealed signs to the effect given out over the years by Mayawati and her mentor Kanshi Ram, the Congress kept getting sucked into her death trap. The article needs to be read in its entirety; there is little need to repeat what I have already stated there with some lucidity.

It has taken a very long time for the Congress to realize that Mayawati is quietly removing the ground from beneath its feet. The lady is now being dubbed, again incorrectly, by the Congress a “spoiler” outside UP where she is causing the defeat of many Congress candidates by luring away dalit voters from the Congress. Her base in these states being small presently, her candidates do not win but eat enough into the vote bank of the Congress to ensure that its candidates are defeated due to this splitting of votes.

The embrace of Mayawati, who spares no opportunity to threaten the emasculated Congress party that she will withdraw support to the government at the Centre if it does not toe her line (the Congress has given in every time so far, any surprise?), is at last beginning to be seen as what it always has been. Possibly the overwhelming need for instant gratification of the lust for power had blinded the party till now.

Maywati is not in the political arena to make or mar the fortunes of other parties. She is in the game to get to power at the Centre on her own. She is not putting up candidates in states other than UP to ‘spoil’ the chances of the candidates of other political parties, primarily the Congress. That is happening as a bye product of her strategy to build an all India base, like she did in UP, to eventually get enough MPs to be the Prime Minister entirely on her own steam. Yes, in the interim she will spare no effort to get a critical number of MPs to ensure that no other party or alliance can form a government on its own. With the BJP and the Congress being at the opposite ends of an irreconcilable ideological spectrum, she will inevitably be in the unique position of choosing her political mates entirely on her own terms, doling out crumbs to salivating nobodies whose sole objective of being in this game of politics is to find the shortest route to the ill-gotten spoils that power showers in complete abundance.

There has been a lot of debate lately about the prospects of Mayawati outside of UP. Most analysts have comfortingly concluded that she has virtually no base or organization in place in many states; regional aspirations and dynamics will ensure that she cannot make any headway; her new fangled alliance with Brahmins in UP is going to fall apart; dalits will soon be disenchanted with her as they realize that upper castes have benefited more from her etc. Were not they similarly dismissive when Kanshi Ram started out with the then hopelessly impossible idea of empowering dalits politically on their own rather than as fringe players in other political parties?

Forget BSP. Remember how even seasoned politicians had written off BJP in the not too distant past as an urban party of banias limited to pockets of North India? See how the party reinvented itself and where it is now? From almost nowhere, it has emerged a one of the two leading national parties in the country, the other being the Congress, of course!

Mayawati is going to do a BJP on the national political scene sooner than most of us would like to even contemplate.

Mahatma Gandhi had dreamt of the day when a dalit would be the Prime Minister of India. That dream could not have been in the limited political sense of a dalit physically occupying that chair like Dr Manmohan Singh is doing now. Mahatma Gandhi would have visualized proper empowerment of dalits in all walks of life as well as the in the political hierarchy. He would have wanted transfer of real power to the dalits and other long downtrodden sections of our society, culminating in a dalit getting to the top job on his own, not due to condescending charity or circumstantial compulsions.

Without doubt, Mahatma Gandhi would have envisioned this shift in the power balance to be spearheaded by his own party, the Congress, from whose ranks a dalit would rise to be PM. He could have never dreamt that this grand old political party would one day mutate into a family property, making the rise of anyone else impossible.

In a larger sense, Mayawati is giving shape to the Mahatma’s dream. A Mayawati could simply not have risen in the Congress. Paradoxically, after stridently talking only about dalits, she is mutating into echoing the very soul of the Congress party that Gandhi had dreamt about. To some Congressmen, she may be appearing to be the ‘spoiler’ of the party; in reality she may be well on the way to becoming the saviour of the party, both in spirit and on ground.

I do not know whether Mayawati has given thought to this possibility: For perhaps the first time since Independence, she is in the unique position of being able to cause a split in the Congress party, to lead the breakaway portion on to becoming the real party with the remaining rump withering away faster than anyone can even imagine now. Alternatively, of course it sounds fanciful and will not happen I know, Mayawati can be made the Congress President and projected as its Prime Ministerial candidate for the next elections! In one stroke, dalits, for long the cannon fodder of the Congress, will get the empowerment that Mahatma Gandhi had dreamt for them within the Congress and the Congress will come back to power with a thumping majority in the next general elections.

It is for Congressmen to decide whether they want to treat Mayawati as a ‘spoiler’ or start acknowledging the fact that she can indeed be the saviour of the Congress party. The choice they make may well determine whether they and their party survive or dissolve into oblivion.


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Readers may also like to read:

1. Mayawati and Dalit Power
2. Single and on a mission: India's alpha (ge)Ms.
3. Mayawati's hug of death
4. Is Modi BJP's answer to the Manmohan Mayawati challenge?
5. Looking for India's Obama in Harvard!