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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2400

Can Maya recreate another ‘rainbow’ in Delhi?

By J N Raina - Syndicate Features

‘Maulana Mulayam’ has been humbled down in Uttar Pradesh, India’s sprawling and populous state. Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) supremo Mayawati used her elephantine powers to ‘crush’ the ‘Maulana’, who during his tenure as Chief Minister had virtually dragged UP close to Islamisation, in a democratic and secular India. Even till his last ‘breath’ as CM, Mulayam Singh Yadav did not spare a single moment to appease the minority Muslim community, although it was to the chagrin of most of them.

Just before counting of votes began, Yadav, in a controversial move, called a special session of the State Assembly, to ram through a Bill, granting minority status to Mohammad Ali Jauhar University, falling in the Rampur constituency of his then Urban Development Minister Azam Khan. The Bill has empowered Khan to become the University’s lifelong Chancellor. May be, Mulayam Singh wanted ‘something for the road’ to continue appeasing the Muslims before quitting. Believably, the Muslims still did not vote for his Samajwadi Party en bloc.

Mayawati made Herculean efforts, under her own steam, during the seven-phase electioneering campaign and routed the BJP and the Congress in the battle royal, relegating the two mainstream parties to third and fourth position respectively. It was something exceptional and admirable too. Ultimately Mayawati romped in home. She proved political Pandits wrong, who had predicted a fractured verdict, and subsequently a hung Assembly.

Mayawati made it possible because of a paradigm shift in her political thinking. She moved away from the trodden path. Instead of laying emphasis on ‘Bahujan’ Samaj, she revolved her politics around ‘Sarvsamaj’. There was lot of social churning.

“My politics has changed for good”, Mayawati made it clear soon after assuming power. She wants to change Uttar Pradesh into ‘Uttam Pradesh’, which Mulayam Singh failed to accomplish. The humble ‘queen’ came like a hurricane on the political arena, almost unexpectedly, and swept away her detractors. She succeeded in narrowing down the huge gap between the upper caste Hindus and the Dalits. It was unimaginable, but impressive. The Dalits constitute 21 per cent while the Brahmins ten per cent of U P’s population.

But amazingly, she has now set her eyes on Delhi. Mayawati is dreaming a dream to become Prime Minister. “We have won UP, now get ready for Delhi”, BSP leader told her party legislators. “Red Fort is my ultimate goal”, Mayawati told them in an emotional tone. The dictum is: “First deserve and then desire”. She has been Chief Minister thrice. Her past is not so praise-worthy.

Having got an opportunity to rule with a firm hand, she must first clean the stables at home, before aspiring to become Prime Minister. Maya, your Ganga is ‘maile’ (dirty). It is polluted. It has become impure. When I was in Allahabad and Varanasi recently, it was apathetic to seen Ganga and its environs. The ancient river, synonymous with the Indian civilization, is dying. It has been rendered unholy because of filthy surroundings.

What is not pure is unholy. Pilgrims who had converged at Sangam—the confluence of Ganga, Yamuna and the mythical Saraswati—for the Ardh Kumbh, were about to commit “Jal Samadhi” (ritual suicide) when they found noxious mix of industrial effluents, sewage and other pollutants in the river, which for all practical purposes is dead. One out of every sixth Indian lives in the Gangetic plain. One among every 12 persons on this planet lives on the fecund plains of this massive region.

Ganga and Yamuna are the lifeline for millions of Indians. If the Ganga Action Plan, together with the Yamuna Action Plan is implemented in toto, it will be a tremendous achievement for Mayawati. She has to show her mettle in UP. Wresting votes and dividing people on the basis of caste, creed and religion, then aspiring to become Prime Minister quickly, without assuring development in her home state, will be her pyrrhic victory. It shows she is peevishly impatient to reach Delhi. She lacks pragmatism. If people have voted for her so massively, there has to be quid pro quo.

Mayawati has a challenging task at home. She cannot shirk from her huge responsibilities. U P is the poorest state. The pace of its infrastructural development is very slow. People at large are educationally backward. The living standard of people, mired in age-old caste system, is far below the national average. U P’s real growth has been just three per cent. If Mayawati can change the economy of her state, which contributes 15 per cent of the Lok Sabha seats, she stands to gain and has the best chance to control Delhi. A large gap exists between the haves and the have-nots.

I did not see any major development since I visited Lucknow last some fifteen years ago. Chaotic scenes were visible near the Varanasi Railway station, with heaps of garbage on the roads. The ancient holy city is being neglected. It is all because of administrative apathy. Cycle rickshaw is the cheapest and the main mode of transport. Rikshawallas are exploited. Brahmins, who are regarded culturally superior, were seen polishing shoes and doing other menial jobs. Unfortunately, they do not have a special quota.

In a posh colony like Rabindrapuri in Varanasi, power remains cut off for ten hours a day. Roads are littered with garbage and potholes. If this is the lot of rich people in UP, imagine what could be the condition of poor and middle-class people. There is complete breakdown of ‘civic infrastructure’. Who is responsible? If politicians remain busy in dividing people on the basis of caste, can we expect something spectacular? People are fed up with the prevailing political system, was the general refrain.

If Narmada waters could reach the arid region of Kutch, to quench thirst of starving people, what prevents Maya from cleaning the Ganga waters? According to a World Bank report, about 9 to 12 per cent of total disease affliction in UP is because of high level pollution in Ganga. If the Ganga-Yamuna project is fully implemented, it can generate international tourism and revive the states dying economy. Mayawati can get tremendous response from all sections of people, irrespective of caste. She can then spread her ‘Mayajaal’ further without question.

Ganga in itself is not a vote bank, but millions of Hindus attached to it are. If she can do it, no one can stop her from riding the crest of fame. UP, battered by poverty, is not a small state. She has to be different from Mulayam. She can develop religious cites on the pattern of Buddhist cites in Bihar and elsewhere in India In this exercise she can bring Hindus, Muslims, Dalits and all other sections of people under one roof and recreate a super ‘Rainbow’.

The new Chief Minister has to restore law and order and provide security to people. People are fed up. It was because of this factor also that people wanted a change. She has to end ‘goonda raj’. People feel insecure. She cannot take half-hearted measures in this regard. Again, one would like to caution her that she has to restrain herself from indulging in political vendetta. It will spoil her entire game plan.

- Syndicate Features -

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