Posted on 21 February 2012
Mayawati invokes Dalit ki beti mantra in Agra
Campaigning for the fifth phase comes to a close, next poll on 28 February
Virendra Nath Bhatt
With campaigning for the fifth of the seven phases of Uttar Pradesh
Assembly polls coming to a close on Wednesday 21 February, intense
jockeying for power among different political parties has intensified.
The political classes, it appears, do not want to wait for the
official poll results to be announced in march and have begun
calculating various combinations to find one best suited to them. The
busiest has been the Samajwadi Party (SP) camp that has been claiming
a return to power for the third time in UP. The SP leaders have also
said the Congress is lagging far behind in battle for UP.
In the Congress' camp, Union Communication minister Kapil Sibal,
during an informal exchange with the media, was candid about his
party's performance so far. "We are not going to win 220 seats this
time nor are we going to form the next government in UP. However, we
are excited by the sharp rise in voter turnout, our vote share will
increase this time," he said.
According to Sibal a high voters turnout has never gone in favour of
the ruling party. "A fair share of votes particularly those of the
youth has gone to the Congress," said the minister.
On her part, UP Chief Minister and Bahujan Samaj Party chief, Mayawati
has once again invoked the "'Dalit ki beti' (Dalit's daughter)" card
and urged voters to give her another chance. In over three weeks since
she launched her party's campaign for the party Mayawati for the first
time on Wednesday 21 February, made a concerted attempt to polarise
the dalit votes in Western UP, urging the electorate to vote for their
own 'beti' (daughter). Earlier she had attempted to arouse the Dalit
passions by lashing out against the Election Commission's order to
cover her statues and those of BSP founder Kanshiram and the party's
On Wednesday 21 February Mayawati addressed election meetings in Agra
and Aligarh, both in West UP, which goes to polls on 28 February in
the sixth phase of the election. "Dalit ki beti ko ek mauka aur do
(give another chance to the daughter of a Dalit)," said Mayawati. She
told the gathering that the, "Congress and other parties cannot stand
the sight of rapid development of UP under the leadership of the Dalit
She asked voters to close their ranks and ensure the victory of all
BSP candidates. Making an appeal to the Dalit Samaj, Mayawati said,
"You will have to work tirelessly, you will have to overcome all
obstacles and hardships for ensuring that each vote of your community
is cast. I assure you that if all BSP candidates win then your own
'dalit ki beti' will take the oath to the CM's office again." Mayawati
also made a fervent appeal to the 'Sarva Samaj' or the upper.
"Ensuring the [BSP] victory is also the responsibility of the Sarva
Samaj," she said.
Agra is the perhaps only city in India with a large population of
Dalit entrepreneurs belonging to the dominant Jatav sub-caste, who
dominate the leather and footwear industry. Agra was once the Center
of Ambedkarite politics and a stronghold of the Republican Party of
India floated by Dr BR Ambedkar.
Virendra Nath Bhatt is a Special Correspondent with Tehelka.
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