The general elections in India, the largest democracy in the world, are near completion. All political parties are waiting for the results for the 543-member Lok Sabha. Next weekend, the game of forming the government begins.
Lobbying for the position of Prime Minister is already under way by some senior leaders. In these elections, for the first time, both national parties have announced their Prime Ministerial candidates. While the Indian National Congress has announced the name of Dr. Manmohan Singh for a second successive term, the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has declared Lal Krishna Advani the ‘Prime Minister in Waiting’. Other than the Congress and the BJP, no other political party has sufficient national presence. In spite of this fact, there are many regional and small political parties whose leaders are daydreaming of becoming the Prime Minister of India.
In fact, since Choudhary Charan Singh and Chandrasekhar became Prime Ministers with the outside support of the Congress, the certainty that the person with the minimum 272 seats or the leader of the single largest party would become the Prime Minister, has vanished. Apart from that, since the leaders like H.D. Devegowda and I.K. Gujral became Prime Minister, almost every politician is of the view that in this game of numbers anybody can become Prime Minister.
Leaders of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), which has its base in Maharashtra, are projecting the name of the party chief Sharad Pawar for the post of Prime Minister, and Mayawati, the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh and the chief of Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), is ‘marketing’ her candidature in her own style.
In the past few days, Congress President Sonia Gandhi said in a rally that ‘nowadays there is a fashion of everybody aspiring for the post of Prime Minister’. In fact only a leader like Sonia Gandhi has the right to say this thing because she is the only person in the history of Independent India who rejected the post of Prime Minister after the 2004 general elections in spite of being elected the leader of Parliament. By this sacrifice, on one hand she made her opponents speechless, on the other hand, she also proved that the main motive of politics is not just to capture the post of the Prime Minister. She made the greedy leaders think, by her action.
But BSP chief Mayawati’s style of politics and thinking is different. Instead of admiring the 2004 sacrifice of Sonia Gandhi; Mayawati is attacking her for the recent statement where Gandhi said ‘nowadays there is a fashion of everybody aspiring for the post of Prime Minister’.
Mayawati in her aggressive signature style said that if the ‘Tom, Dick and Harrys’ of every party can become Prime Minister, then why can’t an educated daughter of a dalit (Socially backward Caste)?
She is absolutely right. The country had its President and Deputy Prime Minister from the dalit community. Therefore, nobody should have a problem with a dalit becoming Prime Minister. Following this farsighted approach, the BSP has for the first time, declared its candidates on about 500 seats all over the country, except for Uttar Pradesh, where the party has no base.
The candidature of such large numbers of people at national level gives rise to two possibilities. One is that Mayawati, following her ‘political style’ may have accepted a large amount of money in the guise of giving tickets to upper middle class industrialists. Another possibility is that by catching candidates in such a large number, Mayawati wants to prove that the BSP is not only a regional party; rather it is a national party.
Nobody should have any apprehension regarding Mayawati becoming Prime Minister. But some analysts who are close watchers of Mayawati’s politics are not able to ignore some aspects of her politics. The most important among them is that the BSP, since its inception, from the late Kanshi Ram’s Baam Safe and DS4 until rhw 2007 Uttar Pradesh assembly elections, had talked about dalit society. The late Kanshi Ram and Mayawati both condemned their ‘upper caste’ political opponents. Both these people succeeded in getting a considerable place in Indian politics as a result of this caste based politics. But after the demise of Kanshi Ram, Mayawati understood that the dalit community on it’s own can’t help her get a full majority in Uttar Pradesh.
This was the reason that Mayawati started a new experiment in Uttar Pradesh. And that was to talk about all castes instead of only the dalit community. This was her new formula of ‘Social Engineering’. Mayawati now started hugging the upper caste people, rather than criticizing them. This new experiment brought her success and she understood that it is far more effective than the older one. The question is that if Mayawati has really risen from limited dalit politics and speaks for the good of all castes, then why does she always call herself the daughter of a dalit and what does she, as a leader of people of ‘all castes’, want to convey by saying that her opponents don’t want to see the ‘daughter of a dalit’ as Prime Minister?
The wishes of the whole nation are with Mayawati. She is also right in saying that if ‘Tom, Dick and Harrys’ can become Prime Minister, then why can’t she?
But if there are any real opponents of Mayawati in this country, they are in the village of Hoshiarpur in Punjab, where Kanshi Ram was born and from where the imagination of the BSP was realized. Today the whole village of Kanshi Ram is praying that Mayawati should not become Prime Minister because they feel that if Mayawati had not done justice with Kanshi Ram and his relatives, what she would do for the country?
Another strong opponent of Mayawati is the chief of the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP), Mr. Ram Vilas Paswan. Mayawati may feel she is the messiah of dalits but another important dalit leader of India, Paswan feels that her politics is anti-dalit. It remains to be seen in which direction the wind blows after 16th May and how her experiment has helped her in the transition from Chief Minister to the post of Prime Minister.