Monday, March 22, 2010

[ZESTCaste] With mala, Maya just carrying forward Kanshiram’s legacy

With mala, Maya just carrying forward Kanshiram's legacy

Ashutosh Bhardwaj Posted online: Monday , Mar 22, 2010 at 0244 hrs
New delhi : India might have found Chief Minister Mayawati's currency
note garland unwearable, but for her party and supporters this is just
another way of being different and asserting the party's identity.
"This is a tradition from the time of Kanshiram. While others accept
flowers, shawls, gold and silver crowns or get themselves weighed in
gold, we take cash directly from our party workers and supporters so
that it can be utilised for people's welfare. We did in front of
cameras, what other parties do away from them. Why isn't anyone
talking about all that instead of trying to defame us? Other parties
pay voters, while we collect money from them," said BSP Rajya Sabha MP
Ambeth Rajan, an associate of Kanshiram and Mayawati.

Party veterans remember how Kanshiram first asked workers to give him
money, as he said flower garlands were a waste of money. In 1986, he
collected coins of his weight, Rs 12,000, soon he also gave the slogan
of 'one note, one vote'.

Symbolism has always been an important part of Dalit politics. B R
Ambedkar stayed clear of the Gandhian dress code, but still chose to
stick to the western style suit, which also found favour with
Kanshiram. Similarly, Mayawati is rarely seen in a saree, the
traditional dress of women in UP.

"These symbols are very important psychological boosters for the
community. When Ambedkar wore a tie and coat, when his community could
not even afford a langoti, and carried a pen in the coat, it was a
symbol of education, self-respect and an example of how to present
oneself," said Dalit artist Savi Savarkar.

Institute of Dalit Studies director Surinder S Jodhka said : "The
grammar of Dalit politics can be tricky sometimes and not easy to
understand. She is doing what all politicians do. She is bringing her
people together, creating a sense of excitement and making a point
that she is a Daulat ki beti. Also, there is no bribe involved here,
it is open and not hidden. She has used Kanshiram tools earlier, when
she used to celebrate her birthday in a lavish way to make the same

While most BSP leaders refused to come on the record, a former party
leader had a cynical view: "The message that at least she,
symbolically, has riches, has been made so many times. Making it now,
at a time when she wants votes of others too, may be overdoing it.
Also, as she is the CM. People will ask what she has actually done for
the community. It won't work this time. It may help her hold her basic

'Why overlook donations to temples?'

The BSP state unit chief, Swami Prasad Maurya, said row over the
currency garland is a needless controversy aimed at deflecting
attention from BSP's achievements. "Why shout now? Are they jealous
that a Dalit ki beti is wearing the crown? What about the massive
money donated to Hindu temples? What is the accountability of this
money and the donors. Why does the IT department overlook such
donations?" he countered. "Indira Gandhi was weighed with gold coins,
Chowdhry Charan Singh was weighed with Rs 75 lakh in 1978. Congress
leaders have often been weighed with gold, mace and swords," he said.
"The BSP doesn't have a culture of corporate funding like the Congress
and the BJP. We raise funds from masses, not from Bofors. This is
hard-earned money of the common man," said BSP general secretary Dr
Suresh Mane.


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