Changing Tune of The Indian Express

Often politicians are equivocal. They change/reverse their statement as and when it suits them. And it is the media who tell us that. Here is how one of the national newspapers does the same.

March 12, 2007: Indian express editorial

Her Dalit-ness has given her politics much of its special grit and therefore it will be that much more difficult for her to transcend identity politics. At the same time, this large mandate would arguably never have come about if she had remained imprisoned in the Dalit corner in the first place. Mayawati’s social engineering was a much bolder experiment than anything that the pre-election Nitish Kumar tried out in Bihar. [link]

March 10, 2012: Indian Express Editorial

When Mayawati was voted to power in 2007, her mandate came riding not on the back of the innovative “social engineering” attributed to the BSP chief, but on the widely shared revulsion against a regime that had failed to honour that basic promise a government makes to the people — to ensure the safety and security of all. [link]

Indian Express could be forgiven for reviewing their analysis in five years. After all, the winning combination they dubbed social engineering was not winning anymore. But they are so predictably adamant about the timelessness of their views, that when Maywati was voted to power in 2007, Indian Express reproduced one of their editorials from 1997 and titled it “A moment in Maywati’s evolution” [link]. Mayawati had formed a coalition govt. with the BJP 1997 despite strong ideolgical differences and in 2007 she made a deeper coalition at the grassroot level among castes to get the mandate. I have no idea what kind of importance this piece of writing carried even for the day in 1997 or 2007 not to mention in the legendary political life of Mayawati.


Chandamama Morality

Chandrabhan Prasad does an uncool somersault towards the end of his column. Just when you felt Mayawati deserved a place not just among the great social revolutionaries, but also in Madame Tussads wax museums, he flips like a trickster.

So why this chaste beating and all-round condemnation on Maya´s monuments? While two-facedness of the mainstream society is rather well known, the question remains, who advised Mayawati to put up her own statues? Maya in stones has robbed the living Maya off the moral mandate the UP society her accorded on her. What a monumental mistake.

It is easier to label Chandrabhan Prasad a saffron stooge, or S. Anand a caste-hindu after all (criticism to Anand in next post to keep this one short). I often do that. But nobody would waste one’s hard-earned credibility appearing overly credulous supporter of Mayawati/BSP, at least no one whose commercial viability depends on it. That strange self-righteousness is also reflected by people who consider themselves thoughtful participants of Dalit movements and extend moral support to BSP. So, instead of asking, “How can we extend (moral) support to (immoral/ridiculous/immodest) act of installing her own statues” we- the people of Chandamama morality – should ask, “is this really such a ridiculous/immoral/immodest thing?”

  • In every ceremony of laying a foundation stone or inauguration, the invited guest, almost always a caste-hindu, unveils a plaque that bears his/her own name- in bold, gold and most important letters.
  • There are at least two departments in IIT, Bombay, which were set up with the help of two alumni –caste hindus of course, which bears their own name. The students who pass out will bear their name throughout their lives, even when these two benevolent alumi cease to contribute both to their lives and to the departments. There must be thousands of such examples.
  • Many of the celebrities run foundations of some sorts of their own name.
  • There are numerous legends, stories, purans, where the gods themselves order the kings/queens/common people to build their statues and temples, in dreams or through the Brahmins.

I could go on. No one ever questioned these large scale self-promotion. Was it because the magnified proximal utility of the projects, where they stood a chance – however minuscule, – to be benefited, makes the immodesty invisible? What is wrong, if Mayawati wants to be remembered, for creating those monuments, not to mention the credibility to Indian democracy she brought, not in letters carved in stones but in statues. To me this uneasiness is very Brahminical, a moral set up by them, exemplified by them, which no one is allowed to break. We Dalit must let it go. It’s time to quit Chandamama.

Backstory of Statues

It is rather insipid, the incessant attack on Statues and Memorials, the newspapers telling us how many hundreds of crores are spent, as if the money is stashed away in the infamous “swiss banks”; how the CM’s pet projects never end, as if bridges and roads come up overnight in India-they rather go down; how the workers are paid minimum wage, as if there is a concept of ethical-structure/buildings in India; how some labourers died, thats serious i agree. The chattering class didnt just object the grand statues in lucknow because of the expenses, but also to the proliferation of blue jacket and glasses clad, constitution carrying Ambedkar statues all over India. This can mislead you, as to what are they really opposed to. I have tried to answer it in the light of BSP’s political strategy in this new blog Round Table.

But Chidambaram’s criticism was repugnant. To Chidambaram, I have this to say,

“Since no one will do it for a dalit, we got to blow our own trumpets. Since dalits don’t want to go to temples, we want to create our own pilgrim centers. Since this country hasn’t produced many wealthy dalit businessman and industrialists, we will use govt. money.”

And I am making a list of shamefuls in Indian politics.

Vote-Share Is Not Acceptability

The father of a 13yr old girl has writen to Ms. Mayawati not to induct Aruna Sankar Sukla, a former SP MLC into BSP.  Sukla  has been threatening the family of the girl who was brutally raped by Sukla’s nephew and his friends. [link]

In an unrelated(!) news, Ms. Maywati defends ‘law and order’ of the state.[link]

She also defended her decision to induct persons with criminal antecedents into the BSP and said, “I have inducted such persons only after they have promised to reform themselves. If they continue with their activities, I will not waste any time in showing them the door.”

She also claims to have suspended ‘officials found negligence of duty’ in Bhaghpat shootout. Why should lower officials be sacked for negligence, if politicians are not?

Personally, I dont think eliminating criminal-politicians or allgeded-ciminal politicians from political parties is a pragmatic approach to contain crime in  society. They will just ride the back of another party or contenst and win independently. But you can’t give them all the hot-seats of power on a simple promise to reform themselves! It seems BSP does more than that. Ms. Mayawati keeps close eyes on her party members. There are a network of spies on each member of the BSP, reporting daily to the BSP chief. [link]

But the kind of oversight Siddiqui hints at borders on paranoia: five persons per BSP candidate in Delhi. And even he himself, he shrugs, knows he is being watched, with a daily report duly filed on his activities.

Is it an effective strategy? Does this restrain the party members with criminal past who are, without a doubt, important for electoral success? Ms. Mayawati has done whatever it takes to shore the vote-share of BSP. She brokered power-sharing deals with SP/BJP, campaigned for Modi, diluted the POA, had the party disciplined to the level of the accusation ‘undemocratic’, shifted from Bahujan to Sarbajan and all of  it yielded result. The results are optimistic, if not exciting, even though the path was not.  I hope it is just wading through the sewage to the prized land. BSP have not grown by leaps and bounds, the growth has always been slow but solid, the ground is won in inches. And one day, I hope, with a fearsome presence in India political arena, BSP would take unwavering stand on issues that even the middle-class fancy.

But if a 13yr old girl and her family are victimized and their persecutor is provided political immunity by non-other-than BSP and Behenji,  every BSP supporter, including me, is bound to be sad and confused. These are the same people, the brahmins/caste-hindus, land-owning caste who used to victimise and terrorise dalit/muslims/minorites. If its not pracitally possible to end their attrocity, Behenji must not encourage them by accepting them into the party fold.  Otherwise the acceptability of BSP will remain doubtful.

Big dreams aside, lets make a small efforts towards justice with the small gains we have made.

Perspectives: Obama Moment

Obama certainly transformed political discourse throughout the world. In India, his election to the White house-the “Obama moment”, has become a comforting wish. For some, Obama represents a fresh breath in politics. His message of “Change” became an instant hit in the media, among youngsters. His unblemished rectitude, unquestionable academic career and previously-held university faculty position awestruck many. Many Indians and observers of India look forward to such a messiah, who would transform politics (for them), someone who would cleanse the political system(of politics and politicians-which they so hate). And they stop there, they look to Ratan Tata, Narayan Murthy with hope. It seems the elaborate resume and clean image of Prime Minister Manmohan Sing failed to precipitate ‘Obama moment’. I have serious doubt if these people understand what democracy is. Continue reading