Maya's anti-crime drive in danger of backfiring
Sanjay Singh Posted online: Thursday , May 06, 2010 at 0827 hrs
Lucknow : Nearly three years into her historic win in the UP Assembly
election, Chief Minister Mayawati's image as an administrator capable
of controlling criminal elements has taken a severe beating. Her
recent drive to rid her party of criminal elements is widely being
seen as a last-ditch attempt to rectify the damage to the party's
image ahead of the 2012 Assembly election.
While the immediate reason for the kicking off of the drive on April
17 seems to be the April 14 murder of Hanuman Charan Shukla, alleged
to be a BSP activist, the Mayawati government has its back to the wall
on a number of fronts. Her preoccupation with her dream projects of
statues and parks has incurred the wrath of the SC and her government
also faces serious charges of corruption.
It was not that the BSP was completely devoid of criminal elements
before the 2007 Assembly elections. However, the advantage was
Mayawati's image as a leader capable of controlling criminal elements,
besides imposing strict discipline on the rank-and-file of her party.
Her public meetings never ended without the shouting of her party's
popular slogan- "Chadh Gundan (criminals) Ki Chhati Par, Muhar Lagegi
Hathi Par (If you want to crush the criminals, vote for the BSP )".
That image was put to the test after she won a majority in the 2007
election. And found severely wanting.
Maya's current tenure saw the involvement of her party MLA Shekhar
Tewari in the killing of PWD engineer Manoj Gupta in Auraiya district
and the dropping of two ministers —— Anand Sen Yadav and Jamuna Nishad
after their names figured in criminal cases. Besides, she selected a
number of candidates with a criminal past, including Arun Shankar
Shukla alias Anna from Unnao seat, Mukhtar Ansari and his brother
Afzal Ansari from Varanasi and Ghazipur seat respectively, D P Yadav
from Badaun and Dhananjay Singh from Jaunpur, during the last Lok
Sabha polls. Most of such controversial candidates of the BSP had lost
the LS elections.
Apart from the LS polls, the BSP continued its trend of choosing
candidates with a tainted past for the Council polls in UP. Even don
Brijesh Singh's wife Annapurna was given a BSP ticket and won the
Things took a turn for the worse on April 14 when Hanuman Sharan
Shukla, alleged to be a BSP supporter, was killed on the dais during
the party's demonstration against the Women's Reservation Bill in
Gonda district. Although the Principal Secretary (Home) Kunwar Fateh
Bahadur had then denied Shukla's association with the BSP, Shukla's
presence at the dais left no scope for the BSP to compensate the
political damage it suffered.
Moreover, Rahul Gandhi's attempt to revive the Congress in UP and his
emphasis on youth and clean governance has thrown Mayawati's failure
on the law and order front in sharper relief. The launch of the
ambitious Yatra programme from BSP stronghold Ambedkarnagar on April
14 has set alarm bells ringing in the ruling establishment.
Against this backdrop, Maya's move to launch a drive against the
criminals at district/block level reflected her desperation to stop
the Opposition parties from targeting her party's association with
criminals. Maya had blamed the Opposition parties, particularly SP,
for sending the criminal elements to join her party in a move to keep
them out of jail. Maya's special focus on this particular drive has
virtually backfired and she has given a strong political issue in the
hands of the opposition parties to highlight her alleged failure to
fulfill the promise that she had made during the 2007 Assembly
elections. Moreover, the current drive which only targeted
district/block level workers put the spotlight on the those MPs/MLAs
and MLCs with a criminal record.
Her May 2 press conference announcing the expulsion of 500 party
functionaries with a criminal background has led her to be an easy
target for the Opposition. While AICC General Secretary Digvijay Singh
demanded the CM release the list of 500 expelled leaders and their
criminal history, the former CM Mulayam Singh Yadav had asked her to
explain why they were inducted at all.
In attempting a grand, symbolic gesture of ridding the party of
criminal elements, Mayawati may have bitten off more than she can
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