Caste alone counts for Mayawati as she eyes Delhi (News Analysis)

October 25th, 2008 - 11:59 am ICT by IANS  

Bahujan Samaj PartyLucknow, Oct 25 (IANS) Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati appears to be banking entirely on the caste factor to race to the portals of power in New Delhi. Be it Dalits, upper castes or religious minorities, she is wooing them all for what they are.Even as the BSP’s foundations were strongly anti-upper caste as laid by Mayawati’s political mentor and party founder Kanshi Ram, who mobilised Dalits under his banner, she was responsible for bringing Brahmins into the party fold.

Having scripted her success story in a highly caste-ridden Uttar Pradesh where she managed to ride to power in May last year by way of “social engineering”, bringing together the lowest and the highest castes in the Hindu social hierarchy, Mayawati seems to be hoping to play the same card to capture the centre.

“We need a still broader caste base to achieve our ultimate goal of grabbing power at the centre,” she told three consecutive conventions of different castes, convened by her in Lucknow within a span of 10 days.

Unlike Kanshi Ram, who believed in targeting individual sub-castes within socially marginalised Dalits, besides the smaller caste groups within Other Backward Classes (OBCs), Mayawati is busy mobilising the broader caste groups as well as religious minorities ahead of the general election next year.

It began earlier this month with the BSP’s much publicised Muslim conference. Shortly thereafter came a convention of OBCs and Scheduled Castes, followed by a separate meet of upper castes - all within a span of 10 days.

The meets turned into mutual admiration societies, with Mayawati leaving no stone unturned to woo the respective castes at these conventions and the key invitees singing paens for the chief minister.

Making no bones about her intent to mobilise support pointedly on the basis of caste and religion, Mayawati had also gone to the extent of declaring that every caste or religion would get its due in proportion to its contribution to the party.

Recalling her mentor Kanshi Ram’s much publicised slogan, “jiski jitni sankhya bhaari, utni uski bhagedaari (every caste will get representation on the basis of its numerical strength)”, she has made it a point to tell the crowds at each meet that the scenario has since changed and the party’s new slogan for different castes is “jitni jiski tayyari hogi, utni uski bhagedaari hogi”.

“The message I wish to convey through this slogan is plain and simple - the share of every caste in governance will depend on its preparedness to help the BSP,” she said.

Mayawati has made it a point to list the number of her elected party representatives from different castes and religions.

When it came to the convention of upper castes a week ago, she said: “The prominent leaders of every caste must get down to mobilising support for the party among their respective castes.”

Just as she went about giving full points to her party’s blue-eyed Brahmin face and the BSP national general secretary, Satish Chandra Mishra, for bringing in a chunk of upper castes into the party fold, she implored a more recent entrant, Akhilesh Das, to follow course and ensure larger support of the Vaishya community.

Likewise, she urged Shahid Siddique, a former Samajwadi Party MP, to mobilise Muslim support for the BSP.

Mayawati makes no bones about caste being the sole criterion not only in the selection of candidates for the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections but even in administrative appointments at all levels.

Be it the appointment of a commissioner, a district magistrate, a superintendent of police or other key jobs, the chief minister always seems keen to know the caste of the person.

There have been umpteen occasions when she has publicly announced the caste of officers handpicked by her for certain key positions in the state.

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