The list below makes it obvious that Mayawati is neither a shrinking violet, a silent do-gooder nor is she a completely destructive force. She is a mix of many things. And she is an important political force on the National stage. She has been Chief Minister of UP four times – her term was truncated thrice and she completed the full term of five years once. After she lost the Assembly Elections to Mulayam Singh, she resigned from her post as the leader of Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) on March 7, 2012. In the same month, she was elected as a member of Rajya Sabha.
Her alliance is going to be an important one to court after the General Elections starting in April 2014 because her BSP is quite elephantine in its vote-generating capacity from the mammoth UP (one of India’s largest and most populous States). Here is a list of things that she needs to be applauded and criticized for.
Bouquet: Mayawati is probably one of the bravest Chief Ministers in the country. While she was the Chief Minister, she had recommended that Uttar Pradesh (UP) (it is one of the BIMARU states) her State, should be divided into multiple (the figure she said was probably 5) smaller States as that would enable better governance and development. This is unparalleled and commendable – especially when most other Chief Ministers try their hardest to retain a bigger State.
Brickbat: Mayawati is accused of being one of the most corrupt politicians in the country. Her personal wealth is supposed to have grown by inexplicable geometric proportions and she even had a Disproportionate Assets Case slapped against her by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
Bouquet: She is supposed to have controlled the lawlessness in UP. And (this one is from a person living in Saharanpur, UP) she had also curbed the rampant eve-teasing that girls faced by setting up cages on footpaths as immediate, highly effective and very public slammers and deterrents.
Brickbat: By fashioning herself as a champion for Dalits she is accused of using divisive politics. Bahujans (Dalits), Other Backward Classes and religious minorities are her vote bank and she allegedly chooses to deepen the chasms in the society in order to protect her vote banks.
I stay away from one-on-one interviews because they misquote me and distort what I’ve said: Mayawati. LIVE updates http://t.co/8t2MaNdjiw
— NDTV (@ndtv) January 15, 2014
Bouquet: Prime Minister P V Narsimha Rao had described Mayawati’s rise as a “miracle of democracy”. Daughter of a post office employee, Mayawati’s brothers were sent to private schools while as a daughter, he was sent only to municipal schools but in addition to BA and Bed, Mayawati also completed LLB.
Brickbat: Mismanagement of funds from the World Bank, the Taj Corridor case, her famous birthdays along with the infamous haars (garlands — in her case they were made completely of high value currency notes) as gifts, the statues (oh! Don’t ever forget her statue building spree).
Bouquet: The Dalits of the State think of her as something of a poster-girl for themselves and an icon for all her fundraising efforts for the backward communities.
Brickbat: Her uncertain methods of awarding contracts for infrastructural projects have allegedly led to poor and incomplete constructions that in some cases do more harm than good.
By Sujata Garimella