Saturday, November 19, 2011

[ZESTCaste] Undisputed queen

Undisputed queen

By KA Badarinath Nov 18 2011 , New Delhi

The 'dalit messiah' just dropped a bombshell last Tuesday kicking up a
huge debate across the nation. The decision of Mayawati, the
undisputed queen-bee of dalits, to split Uttar Pradesh into four
smaller states is definitely a masterstroke against her political

On the face of it, the maverick Mayawati's move is on solid grounds of
'easy and effective' governance of smaller states. To put the Congress
government at the centre on the backfoot, she will pilot a bill in the
state assembly shortly to carve up the state in four slices. There is
little doubt that once this happens, it will only stoke the fires for
creating Telangana out of Andhra Pradesh and Vidharbha from

Mayawati, who catapulted to become the first dalit woman chief
minister way back in 1997 at 39 years, has her reasons for the
unexpected move. State assembly elections are round the corner and she
is seeking a re-election with main campaign theme to take governance
to people's doorstep via small states.

It is also aimed at taking the sheen away from possible attack from
Congress against her government on corruption, land problems faced by
farmers and unkept promises she had made five years ago. Not only has
she revived a national debate on reorganisation of states but also
effectively neutralised her one-time friend-turned-foe, Ajit Singh,
the powerful Jat leader who was the first to demand Harit Pradesh out
of western UP.

Yet, things may not go hunky dory for Mayawati who rallied dalits in
past two decades along with her mentor Kanshiram, leading the charge
in social engineering of electorate that is already fractious on caste
lines. For instance, her move to carve out the poorest region,
Bhundelkhand, as one state, does not stand to scrutiny given the fact
that the seven districts identified, lack resources, infrastructure
and resource generation avenues. Also, 10 years after the erstwhile
NDA government carved out Uttarakhand, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand from
Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Bihar respectively, the results are
mixed. All the three young states are still to make a mark on either
economic growth or human development index parameters.

In fact, Mayawati's rise from her modest background was termed by the
late prime minister PV Narasimha Rao as 'miracle of Indian democracy'.
Mayawati, today, is considered the richest chief minister as per her
income-tax filings. Interesting is the story of how Kanshiram pulled
her into the electoral battlefield. As Mayawati aspired to become an
IAS officer, according to her biographer Ajay Bose, Kanshiram told
her, "I can make you such a big leader that not one but a whole row of
IAS officers will line up for your orders".

And that's come true, but not without its share of controversies,
charges of corruption hurled at her, and accusations of being a
'whimsical leader' with a penchant for spreading hatred against upper
caste Hindus whom she later embraced to broadbase her political

Yet, no one would deny that she has survived many a battle and
continues to battle it out. You never know what is in store.


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