Has Mayawati signalled the death of casteism in Indian politics, once and for all? If she has done so, she has done the greatest service not only to India but to the forces of democracy. As in almost all parts of India, Uttar Pradesh was riven with casteism. And Mayawati, like her now dead tutor Kanshi Ram, was a dutiful disciple of her master and frequently and disparagingly spoke of Manuvad even when she knew full well that Manu'sconcept of casteim has been dying a long and inevitable death. But in earlier elections it was fashionable to damn upper castes, especially Brahmins.
This time she changed her tactics whether out of conviction or necessity or parts of both, only she and God can tell. But in the just concluded elections she spoke of sarv samaj (all castes) and bhaichara (caste amity) and brahmin jodo abhiyan (?Take the Brahmins along? mission)?and that turned out to be the key to success. She had the dalits with her. Brahmins and upper castes formed about nine per cent. Brahmins joining hands with dalits (21 per cent ) turned out to be unbeatable. Of the total 403 seats in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly, Mayawati'sBahujan Samaj Party won an unbeatable 211 seats. She had given 139 seats to the Forward Castes, 110 seats to other Backward Castes, only 93 to the Scheduled Castes and 61 to Muslims. That was a political master-stroke. Her team was ?inclusive?. Her Brahmin-hating teacher may not have liked the idea of dalits sharing power with others?especially Brahmin?candidates but Kanshi Ram'sdeath had liberated Mayawati from Manuvadism. It is a lesson all parties, one hopes, will learn futurely. A dalit-Brahmin combine would be practically unbeatable.
In that sense, Mayawati has gone beyond the political thinkers of a past generation of dalits, beginning with Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar and ending with Kanshi Ram and including Jagjivan Ram. Those defeated can now say: Hey Ram!. This is not to say that there were not other factors that prevailed. One, needless to say, is incumbency.
Mulayam Singh had made himself obnoxious and his government had seen more lawlessness in the state as never before. He had to go. He had offended many Hindu sentiments by trying to show that he was more Muslim than a Muslim. Such techniques don'twork. Or they work only upto a point beyond which such tactics turn out to be unproductive. Nitish Kumar in Bihar had realised it, which is why he won and is now trying to undo the damage his wretched predecessor had wrought over a decade.
What Nitish Kumar can do, Mayawati can do even better, if she lays implicit trust in the forward castes and gives them a fair chance to operate. She should not forget that out of the 872 candidates with criminal antecedents who had been fielded across the political spectrum, 130 have made it to the winning posts. They need to be watched carefully. And may it be said that Mayawati herself is not so clean as she may wish to be known as. Whatever the Lucknow Court may decide, the fact remains that she was involved in the infamous Taj Corridor Case. Her decision, when in power, to build a corridor around the heritage monument in utter disregard of the guidelines laid down by the Union Ministry of Environment and the Archaeological Survey of India would haunt her for a life-time.
It will be remembered that the Rs 175 crore Taj Heritage Corridor scam had gone up to the Supreme Court which had rejected the CBI Director'sreport for closing the case. And it is also equally well to remember that the Supreme Court had expressed its anguish over the manner in which the CBI had dealt with the case and the growing tendency of approaching the apex court in all criminal cases involving some important persons.
The Bench had said that the premier investigating agency like the CBI is expected to do its duty honestly, otherwise the criminal investigation and justice delivery system would collapse like ?a heap of sand?.
But the question may well be asked: Why did the Forward communities like the Brahmins vote for a formerly aggressive anti-Brahmin party? In years past the rule was that the minority forward castes would be at the top of the pyramid while the dalits would form the base. The pyramid is now standing on its head. It is the dalit who will be at the head while the forward castes will form the base of party affiliation. That practically kills all casteism in politics in one fell blow. The country has reason to feel proud of it. And the Forward Castes can feel relieved that they would not, in future, have the burden of being damned as anti-dalit. This is in consonance with India'spast history.
The Brahmin seldom ruled. The Brahmin advised. He could be a mantri but never a raja. What he lost in power, he gained in respect. This may have been Mayawati'stechnic to capture power?and she has succeeded. It is a new development and needs to be carefully watched. It may have repercussions in future elections both at the state and national levels.
What will Mayawati'sstupendous success do in the election of the next President? As of the moment she has kept her views strictly under wraps. But she has to decide. How will her success change the electoral strategies of other political parties, notably the BJP and the Congress? The Communists have been effectively?and deservedly?routed. Communism is not Indian in origin. It offends every attribute of dharma as laid down by our ancient teachers.
The BJP will have to do a lot of fresh thinking. The last time any party won a majority on its own in Uttar Pradesh was in 1991 when the BJP did even better with winning 221 of 425 seats than Mayawati has now, with a win of 211 seats out of 403. Dr A.P.J.Abdul Kalam wants a two-party system in India; what Mayawati has shown is that there can be a one-party government in a state provided all castes are equally well respected and no one caste presumes to have the right to govern.
But what is most significant of all is the fact that dynasticism has been given a deadly blow. The Congress has for all practical purposes been shown the door. The upper castes deserve to be congratulated in Uttar Pradesh. They have risen above caste to vote for a dalit and what greater tribute can one pay to Hinduism?the most catholic of all religions? What Mayawati had done was not to offer a bait but a respectful namaskar to the upper castes. And the latter have paid the respect they received by conceding power to a dalit. India may be going back to its ancient roots?wisely.