Mayawati: Short sprint queen? | Cover Story | Times Crest
Popular on Times Crest
  • In This Section
  • Entire Website
  • Still happening
    July 13, 2013
    The govt last year extended the club's lease up to 2050.
  • Seeking good company
    July 13, 2013
    Madras Club is today home to modern aristocrats.
  • Mission admission
    July 13, 2013
    The news of a member stumping up over a crore for entry to Mumbai’s Breach Candy club only proves that the allure of private clubs still holds…
More in this Section
Leaving tiger watching to raise rice Ecologist Debal Deb, who did his post-doctoral research from IISc in…
The crorepati writer He's the man who gives Big B his lines. RD Tailang, the writer of KBC.
Chennai-Toronto express Review Raja is a Canadian enthusiast whose quirky video reviews of Tamil…
Don't parrot, perform Maestro Buddhadev Dasgupta will hold a masterclass on ragas.
A man's man Shivananda Khan spent his life speaking up for men who have sex with men.
Bhowmick and the first family of Indian football At first glance, it would be the craziest set-up in professional football.
From Times Blogs
The end of Detroit
Jobs in Detroit's car factories are moving to India.
Chidanand Rajghatta
How I love the word ‘dobaara’...
Can ‘bindaas’ or ‘jhakaas’ survive transliteration?
Shobhaa De
Anand marte nahin...
India's first superstar died almost a lonely life.
Robin Roy

Mayawati: Short sprint queen?


POWER TRIPPING: Mayawati outsourced governance to a few officers with little commitment to her causes.

Mayawati impressed with her efficiency during her brief stints in office. The long run, however, was another story.

On a hot summer noon in 1997, Mayawati, still raw and having just taken over as chief minister for the second time, rushed to her dream project, Ambedkar Udyan, and found an empty pedestal, with the dalit icon's statue nowhere in sight. "Agar kal tak yahan moorti nahin lagi toh?" she asked menacingly. "To Jai Shankar Mishra khud yahan khada ho jayega!" The senior IAS officer's wit eased the tension.

The fascination with statues had just started, but work on other fronts was breezy too. The criminals were fast entering prisons, the organised mafia was facing the gun, and streets were back to the normal bustle. The whip was cracked to push development work in Ambedkar villages, aimed to improve the lives of dalits.

That was it. Mayawati knew she had six months in power, and did not see the uneasy alliance with the BJP lasting long. On display was the instant delivery from the famous, mostly compromised, babudom of Uttar Pradesh.

The work chosen was caste-partisan, leading to much heartburn in the Kalyan Singh-led BJP, but that was the proud manifesto of the fledgling outfit of 60-odd MLAs - crime, dalit welfare and dalit pride. Blunt and dictatorial, the czarina was exemplary in short bursts. Her three chief ministerial innings of four, six and 15 months stand in sharp contrast to her five-year term that ends on March 6.

The outcome of the battle for Lucknow may be a suspense, but the verdict is already out on Mayawati's first full term - the 'sprint queen' could not be a 'marathon marvel. '

That the Opposition, especially Mulayam Singh Yadav, thinks that corruption as poll plank is enough to oust Mayawati is an obvious sign of her abject failure, as is the evidence that the lot of dalits, who give her the headstart in polls with at least 15 per cent votes, has not changed.

The tidal wave which swept Mayawati to power on May 11, 2007, was of hope, an exasperated mass's last resort. A deeply fragmented populace, uppercastes, strong and weak backwards, came together as a monolith to ignore their deeprooted, reprehensible prejudices, and be called Mayawati's voters', bestowing the mandate with a historic value that future generations would marvel at.

The sheer nature of victory called for a vision to take governance to a new level, away from the rifraff of the last few years. Not all felt it was possible. Mayawati was used to short terms of few months, which allowed her to run an "order-and-deliver" administration. A full tenure required her to rule by a vision-sheet - have patience, conceive longterm policy decisions. Delivery was the last part.

But if there were skeptics, so were hopefuls who saw strong reasons for the impetuous leader to turn the corner. The numerical majority in the assembly would free her from the constraints on decision-making and the newfound support from non-dalits would afford her the cushion to undertake dalit welfare with greater intensity, otherwise a cause of heartburn.

While she was vulnerable on the corruption front, the rage against rival Mulayam Singh Yadav that she benefited from called for obvious course correction, not too much for a 24x7 politician. Above all, it was felt that her expanded support base and higher popularity would take her closer to the people, largely poor. There was everything for an acrimony-free reign. Though simplistic, many spoke of post-caste politics.

By general view, she was shown up, with the only redeeming feature being her old forte - crime. That she has to use the EC's decision to cover elephants and statues to rouse dalits betrays insecurity on the homefront while her return to overt caste politics proves she could not capitalise on 2007 verdict.

Little has gone right since she took up the CM's mantle. Honest bureaucrats have been on the run, seeking refuge in central deputations or facing the axe in Lucknow. The sordid tales are dime a dozen.

Those disappointed after five years lament that Mayawati should have taken charge, established direct dialogue with people like Mamata Banerjee, and then may be faltered, like TMC chief seems to be doing. It would still have been better. Instead, she outsourced governance to couple of officers with little commitment to either Kanshi Ram's manifesto or her 'sarvjan' motto. They are also seen as brains behind her prime ministerial obsession, which threw her off track.

Over five years, when scams and scandals tumbled out and controversies reigned supreme, she preferred the confines of high-walled, high-security mansion. The worst for a subaltern leader is the accusation of being 'invisible CM'.

In her moment of truth, with the vast land drowned in the campaign cacophony, Mayawati is back to politics she is master at. Not all would count her out, because this is one game where she is the best. Come March 6, she could still surprise the nay-sayers, but that would just be a Victory. What people asked for in 2007 was Vision.

Reader's opinion (2)

Brent GudzusFeb 7th, 2012 at 22:38 PM

Corruption can't be turned around in just a few years. I don't know enough about her to have an opinion, but it's never easy for a woman who is also a Dalit. I do like the idea of Mayawati but I don't know how Mayawati really is as a leader.

Manish MehraFeb 2nd, 2012 at 12:18 PM

i feel this is a fantastic article but what Mayawati did is often criticised by the media. If you check what was the situation when it was Mulayam singh in the power then you would realize the difference between then and now. Law and order now is far better than it was that time.

Other Times Group news sites
The Times of India | The Economic Times
इकनॉमिक टाइम्स | ઈકોનોમિક ટાઈમ્સ
Mumbai Mirror | Times Now
Indiatimes | नवभारत टाइम्स
महाराष्ट्र टाइम्स
Living and entertainment
Timescity | iDiva | Bollywood | Zoom
| Technoholik |


itimes | Dating & Chat | Email
Hot on the Web
Book print ads | Online shopping | Business solutions | Book domains | Web hosting
Business email | Free SMS | Free email | Website design | CRM | Tenders | Remit
Cheap air tickets | Matrimonial | Ringtones | Astrology | Jobs | Property | Buy car
Online Deals
About us | Advertise with us | Terms of Use and Grievance Redressal Policy | Privacy policy | Feedback
Copyright© 2010 Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd. All rights reserved. For reprint rights: Times Syndication Service