Woman of the people
Priya Chetty-Rajagopal, an Executive Search Consultant is a long term
Bangalorean with a wry take on life and living
Posted On Thursday, April 15, 2010 at 06:35:49 PM
I am trying to be honest about why I so dislike Mayawati. Why my lip
curls in increasingly automatic nausea. By doing so, I am perhaps
exposing my biases and the disgust that urban middle class
professionals feel for politicians like her. Darn, but there it is.
And *shrug*, I'm okay with it.
Mayawati came to power in UP with a remarkable majority. Apparently,
it is just insensitive, ill-informed people like us with a misplaced
sense of what is right, that have become completely apoplectic about
Of course. And, please don't play the Dalit card. She's gender and
caste neutral on crass quotient.
When the Women's Reservation bill was being debated, she stood out as
a proud example of women in high political office and the corruption
that they too succumb to.
We needed women role models in politics and we got Mayawati. She was a
seemingly simple Ms Every Woman who had worked hard, and admirably
moved up the political system to be the CM of India's most populous
state. Comparisons, then hopeful, were made about her and US President
Barack Obama. However, she sold her people, and to a lesser extent,
folks like us, down the river in the megalomania that followed her
She has undoubtedly done some good work. Yet, the image that will stay
with me is the smug, chapathi-like countenance looking matter-of-fact
and stately while huge, obscene money garlands were placed around that
There was some talk about how poor Mayawati was being unnecessarily
targeted and vilified by the media and the middle class...because she
was a Dalit.
It had not even entered my mind, except to hope that she would do her
bit to help the same voluminous and troubled vote bank that got her
elected. She hardly did. Unless, of course, the people of UP had a
burning desire to eat the dust off the many statues she constructed,
and bask in the heady (albeit non-nutritious) aroma of freshly minted
Rs 1,000 notes fluttering crisply in the summer breeze.
Adding a contemptuous slap to the face of her critics, aides asserted
that garlanding her with currency notes would now be a regular
Her supporters say others have done gross stuff like this — weighed
themselves in silver, gold, ghee, whatever. So why pick on her?
I despise all of them. But why am I even more dismissive of this one?
Because she is a woman? Because she could have been a beacon to women
in politics? Because, once long ago, I do believe she had dreams for
her people? Because she proved right the adage that 'power corrupts
and absolute power corrupts absolutely'?
In her quest for absolute power, she became blind and deaf to the
impact of her actions. What perhaps irritates me in all this is her
contempt for people like me.
While she is admittedly no Miss Universe, the sheer gumption of
installing paeans of praise to yourself in your own lifetime stinks of
excessive, ultimate egotism. Defying courts, she sanguinely spends
lakhs, even crores on large, ghastly and unwieldy statues of her and
her mentor in every nook and cranny, and, adding insult to injury,
serenely installs legions of cops to guard them. Presumably from
pigeons and bees that she sees as Enemies of the State. The pigeons —
if you excuse my politically incorrect comparison — are doing to her
statue exactly what we feel they should do to the original.
Is the anger I have because I feel that little upstart got a chance,
blew it, and blew it publicly? Because she was too thick-skinned to
even fathom how much beyond the pale she had gone? While I work hard
and pay my taxes, this silly twit holds the people of UP to ransom,
with her expectation of large monetary gifts, yet ensures she honestly
pays her taxes — ironically, she is allegedly one of the highest tax
payers we have.
And pray, where does she get the darn money? A law unto herself, the
illusionary Mayawati like her name, locked away in an ivory tower of
her own making, has lost the ability to listen to her people (until
the next elections, naturally) and work for their welfare, toiling
instead on more pressing items like putting up umbrellas to protect
her colossal statues from pigeon poop.
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