New book on Mayawati says she faced discrimination at home

May 6th, 2008 - 1:10 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Bahujan Samaj Party

Lucknow, May 6 (IANS) Mayawati, the country’s first woman Dalit chief minister, is known to have fought high-caste exploitation to pitchfork herself into enviable political space, but many may not be aware she first faced discrimination at home. Mayawati was discriminated against - not for her caste but for her gender. She suffered at the hands of her father who sent her and her two sisters to government schools while her half a dozen brothers had the luxury of private school education.

Mayawati was the best student in her family but father Prabhu Das, who once contemplated remarriage since his wife had borne three daughters and no son, preferred to spend less on the girls.

Her mother eventually delivered six sons who went to private schools, which cost far more than subsidised government institutions.

In the 1970s, Mayawati walked out of home to join her mentor Kanshi Ram, then a political novice and founder of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP).

These and several other little known details of her life and political career have been featured in the book “Behenji: A political biography of Mayawati” written by journalist Ajoy Bose. The book will be released Wednesday in New Delhi.

The book also dwells on her relation with Kanshi Ram. “There may have been much gossip about her relationship with Kanshi Ram, but more important than that is how she took the risk of politically aligning with a person who was a nobody,” Bose told IANS.

Simultaneously, he said, Kanshi Ram ran the risk of being lampooned by his close associates for promoting a novice like her. But between the two of them, they created a political outfit historic in the way it came up.

“People tend to trivialise their relations but I have made the point that the alliance went much beyond the level of gossip to become today a force to reckon with in the country’s body politic,” Bose said.

Relying heavily on Mayawati’s two-volume Hindi biography, the book documents how, after becoming the Uttar Pradesh chief minister, she taunted her father who approached her to declare a special welfare scheme for their village Badalpur.

“I always thought it were your sons who would keep your name alive,” Mayawati reportedly told her father.

The Hindi translation of Bose’s book would be released in Lucknow early next month.

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