Wednesday, February 15, 2012

[ZESTCaste] Mayawati: Queen in her cocoon…

Mayawati: Queen in her cocoon…

Akshaya Mishra Feb 15, 2012

Lucknow: The presence of the part of Gomti Nagar which houses the
sprawling 123-acre Ambedkar Memorial and the old city in a single
visual frame explaining Lucknow makes it look like a badly done cut
and paste job. One is, a medieval dream come alive in modern times and
the other, a picture of civic chaos and decay; one a shining symbol of
political hubris and extravagance and the other a tell-tale story of

There are enough concrete structures and glass-fronted buildings
making up the middle space. But they fail hopelessly short to provide
consistency to the visual narrative. Both are signs of a
self-indulgent and indifferent government. Between these contrasting
pictures lies the story of the failure of Mayawati.

Election is due in Lucknow on 19 but the excitement about it is not
palpable. The mood seems in agreement with the character of the city —
silent, brooding and comfortable with itself. However, if you scratch
the surface, you detect anger, a lot of it.

"Look around. See the mess. Do you think we have a government that
works?'' asks the gentleman who has become my guide from the Chowk
area to Khala Bazaar. Traffic chaos, damaged roads, piling garbage,
goats moving around aimlessly, shops extending unto the roads and the
general disarray around – yes, all this do not make for a pretty
picture. Old city areas across India are a bit messy but in Lucknow it
is something else.


The civic body, obviously, has failed. Apparently it is struggling for
funds. "All the money went into those statues," explained the
gentleman helpfully. He was referring to the sand-stone statues at the
Ambedkar Memorial.

The paanwala turns out to be a reservoir of knowledge on political
matters. The BSP is going to lose and the Samajwadi Party will get
good number of seats. The BJP and the Congress will end up third and
fourth, he says, adding, SP and Congress will form government
together. That is the general assessment of the man on the street.

"Mayawati needs to be taught a lesson. People have chosen a chief
minister, not a maharani. This woman spends government money like it
is her father's property. Look at the corruption. Where do her
diamonds come from? From public money obviously,'' he says. His friend
chips in: "Her votes are in the villages. She understands that. She
also understands that urban voters are fickle. Why should she be
worried about this place? She has left it to rot."

Zaheer Mustafa, editor of Urdu daily In Dino, says the anger is in no
way misplaced. He, however, takes the explanation of the popular
disenchantment to another level. Mayawati has deliberately distanced
herself from people by making herself inaccessible, he says.

"She neither goes out often nor addresses public meetings nor meets
the press. It is difficult even for party MLAs to raise their problems
before her, forget the common man. She gets easily irritated and has
no patience to hear things out. She has no ears for news that is
uncomfortable to her. And the punishment for any indiscretion is
swift. This way she has closed herself to the outside world. This kind
of approach certainly hits administration,'' he says.

The Brahmins who joined her in 2007 had expected that she would allow
them to play a role in party affairs, but that has not happened. Even
the Dalits don't play any role in decision-making. That has created a
lot of disenchantment in both the groups. "Basically, she does not
trust anyone. She does not allow the party to address situations that
require a political response. A cabinet secretary reads out her
response and that is how it works in all cases. If she survives, it
will be because of the strong organisation she has created," Mustafa

The spate of corruption charges against her and her brother, Anand
Kumar — who the BJP alleges runs at least 26 companies which
registered phenomenal growth after Mayawati came to power —has dented
her public image. He is alleged to have benefitted from the land deals
in Noida, which later led to farmers' agitations. In addition, there's
the extravagance in the construction of parks. Mayawati certainly has
distanced herself from people more than one way. Her problems are of
her own making.

The fear among people is if she gets a repeat mandate, the state will
be ruined. "Tab to woh aur ek Taj Mahal bana legi. Hum log yahin
baithe rahenge soch soch ke kya ho raha he," says the paanwala's


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