Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Is Kumari Mayawati a real dalits messiah?

Kumari Mayawati is the current chief minister of one of India’s most poorest and backward states and also she hails from lower rung of Hindu caste ladder. It is a rejoicing moment for dalits when she was elected as chief minister of India’s most populous state. It is worth noting that dalits were suppressed class of rigid Hindu casteism once they were known as “untouchables”. They did menial jobs which are considered impure, dirty by the upper caste Hindus. When they observe a leader from that caste climbing to the top rung of political ladder, it is an obvious moment of joy. But that moment of joy did not last longer when they witness their lifestyle has not been improved by same political hero.

Recently, India’s Supreme Court has asked Kumari Mayawati to justify spending an estimated $425m in public money to erect statues of herself, her political mentor Kanshi Ram and erudite Ambedkar. This public litigation was presented to the supreme court by two lawyers one namely Ravi Kant urged the court to order central bureau of investigation to investigate the misuse of public development funds on monuments to falsely glorify chief minister’s image. The concerns of lawyers include Uttar Pradesh which is one of the poorest states with some of its highest rates of infant mortality and maternal mortality must first address those some pressing problems.

Mayawati claims that all these monuments built will increase the self confidence of dalits but educated elites (from dalits) claim that only good quality education to dalits will truly increase self confidence. She has been fiercely criticized for one of the projects which cover 130 acres which have employed about 25,000 mostly out of state workers. All these workers live like refugees in their home country sleeping in tattered, makeshift tents, spending scorching days carving stone under elephants, like something out of a medieval tableau. This public interest lawsuit adds to the legal woes faced by Ms Mayawati who is already under investigation for her huge wealth accumulation through unknown channels and also a case of corruption in development of areas near Taj Mahal dating back to her earlier stint as chief minister. She has constantly denied any wrong doing and defended her building spree.

Lok Sabha elections results were setback to Ms Mayawati who dreamed of becoming prime minister of India. Before the election, Mayawati’s BSP (Bahujan Samaj Party) was touted to win at least 40 parliamentary seats but election results revealed it has won only 21 seats. Ms Mayawati is widely known for her autocratic style and fierce temper didn’t win votes from her core constituency which suggested her self- aggrandizing projects were alienating herself from voters. Repercussions of her projects are clearly visible and voter’s true concerns are exposed in form of grievances in the election results.

Democracy is defined as Government of the people, by the people and for the people. Ms Mayawati has tweaked the definition to state “Government of the people, by one leader and for glorifying the leader’s image”. It is high time that she should realize there are millions of people in her state without food to eat, cloths to wear and a place to live. She should not spurn the business leaders, the World Bank and foreign secretaries who are willing to provide helping hands to the people in despair. A good political leader is one whom the people always remember is through his or her deeds.

If Mayawati really wants to uplift the impoverished dalits who are still living in the bottom of economic pyramid then she has to stop her building binge and focus on the understanding of their problems. Though problems are clearly known to any layman but there is a complexity in solving those problems. Often poor governance in Uttar Pradesh is blamed for the large swath of people living under below the poverty line. She needs to improve the governance before laying fantastic highways and other infrastructural developments for businesses. Only inclusive growth in Uttar Pradesh can solve the long standing problems of dalits. For that to happen, Mayawati should shun her ego and step up!


  1. I was totally disgusted when I first read this news in the papers. I think a lot of Indian politicians still have the colonial mentality and simply do not care about the country or the common man. India is most probably the most discriminating society in the world. This generation should start thinking, "what can I do to stop this" and then do what needs to be done. Lets start with voting.

  2. @Jagdish I haven't yet voted in elections. I really wonder Is there a button to abstain from election? If that is the case right then we can teach a lesson to all this corrupt politician. I am also equally shocked to find Supreme court not banning those building binge.