Home > Archives (2006 on) > 2007 > June 09, 2007 > Mayawati, no Ataturk, Still has a Chance

Mainstream, Vol XLV No 25

Mayawati, no Ataturk, Still has a Chance

by T.J.S. George

Saturday 9 June 2007

The great beauty of Indian elections is that nobody loses. Even when you are routed, you can boldly claim victory. Listen to the Congress spokesman after the UP rout: “The courage of Rahul Gandhi is laudable. We increased our percentage and number of seats.” Listen to the BJP, the greatest loser: “We won in Punjab, Uttarakhand. We defeated Mulayam in UP.”

The politics of bombast is an escape latch when the field is crowded with so many parties. Behind the brazenness, however, there is no hiding the facts. The basic fact in UP was that the people badly wanted Mulayam Singh out. His government had become not only autocratic and irresponsible; it had let law and order reach depths even UP could not stand.

Voters using elections to oust a government rather than vote one in is a phenomenon witnessed in almost every State. The politicians give it a respectable term: the incumbency factor. It is actually a shameless admission that, once a party is voted into power, it turns autocratic and irresponsible as if by right.

The people concede no such right to any party. Their dilemma of course is that all parties are equally avaricious and short-sighted, leaving no meaningful choice. So, in two-front States like Tamil Nadu and Kerala, they resort to the sea-saw game. In multi-party jungles like UP, they play merry-go-round.

At every turn, the Indian voter has consistently shown shrewd political judgment. Once the decision was clear in the UP electorate’s mind that the Mulayam Singh set-up had to go, it became equally clear that “parties of the past” like the Congress and the BJP had nothing at all to offer. Rahul’s very talk about the Gandhi family’s record was a throwback to a dead past. L.K. Advani rode a dead horse with his emotional pitch that there would be no “Jai Sri Ram” until the Mandir was built in Ayodhya; the BJP’s defeat in the Ayodhya area had high symbolic value.

Mayawati this time seemed to be moving forward to something new unlike the others who were looking backwards. Keeping her Dalit fortress secure, she extended a welcome mat to Brahmins and to Muslims. The long-ostracised Brahmins were perhaps flattered by the wooing. The Muslims were in a mood to welcome any new guardian anyway. What a combination, though—Brahmins and Dalits!

Mayawati’s winning formula showed that the UP universe was still hopelessly enmeshed in caste and community calculations. But which State is not? The bigger question is: Will she use her new opportunity to build something substantive, or will she again be just another politician enamoured of unnecessary evils like the Taj corridor complex?

Like the AIADMK in Tamil Nadu, the BSP is a one-leader party. This is a variation of the kind of weakness that cripples the Congress. No political party can rise to historical levels when one person alone is the fount of all wisdom—unless that person is a visionary of Kemal Ataturk’s calibre. If Mayawati puts her unchallen-geability to constructive purpose, five years are enough to make a mark. If she doesn’t, the UP electorate will again play merry-go-round. n

(Courtesy : The New Indian Express)

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