Is Mayawati pilloried because she is a Dalit?

With the Uttar Pradesh electoral joust not too far away, the shadow-boxing has begun. The Congress is going to town questioning the hundreds of crores spent by chief minister Mayawati on statues. In the other corner, Mayawati is being credited for uplifting Dalits and tribals and the success of India’s formula one debut is being placed at her door.

There is talk that Mayawati could emerge as a prime minister candidate if not as a kingmaker if the Bahujan Samaj Party does well in the assembly elections and repeats the show in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. Which is why apparently the Congress is said to be pushing Lok Sabha speaker Meira Kumar as a potential PM to steal Mayawati’s thunder.

But, as always, the spectre of corruption hangs over her abrasive figure. Former civil servant Amitabha Pande writes in Mail Today:

Mayawati’s corruption or the growth of her private wealth through the use of political power has a political, cultural dimension which is often ignored. It does not justify it, but it may offer a possible explanation for the blatant manner in which it is done.

“Purely in terms of scale Mayawati will rank quite low in the gallery of rogues in comparison with many members of the Union Cabinet, many present and former chief ministers, sundry progenies and sons in law of prominent political dynasties, and other shadowy denizens of Indian political life. Yet, while most others will evoke nary a reaction from the chatterati, Mayawati’s conduct invariably evokes voluble expressions of revulsion. Caste prejudice is undoubtedly at work here.

“There is also no doubt that as much as the upper classes hate her, her own constituency adores and admires her despite or maybe even because of the growth of her wealth. Her identification with her own lot is so complete that her growth is their growth and a form of retribution for centuries of servitude and exploitation.”

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