Mayawati's resignation from Rajya Sabha is not mere tokenism: Sudhindra Bhadoria
The Uttar Pradesh leader has been under a lot of pressure lately to reinvent and to reinvigorate her party ever since the BSP saw its tally plummet to a meagre 19 seats in the recently concluded Assembly elections. Large sections of her Dalit base seem to have moved to the BJP even as her attempt to build a Dalit-Muslim alliance came to naught.
In fact, her election to Rajya Sabha had become contingent on support from other parties.
The rise of the Bhim Army in the state had also added to the pressure on the BSP supremo. In fact, violence erupted soon after she left Shabbirpur village in Saharanpur in May even though the BSP leader happens to be a Z-plus protectee. Her visit was also blamed for playing a role in the violence.
And as an academic close to BSP points out, Mayawati has also felt slighted over how shabbily she has been treated by the state government.
According to the same academic, Mayawati's ability to capitalise on this move depends on how effectively she conveys the message to a larger base - a front on which she has largely failed lately.
Catch spoke to BSP leader Sudhindra Bhadoria on what may have lead to Mayawati’s resignation and what the party’s future plans are. Some excerpts from the interview:
Why has Mayawati resigned from the Rajya Sabha all of a sudden?
It is not all of a sudden. The last three years that the BJP has been in power, Mayawati has been trying to raise issues concerning the people of this country, particularly the Dalits, minorities, women, and the poor.
Of late, we have seen that the BJP government is not willing to listen to any voice - either that of the people or of the Opposition.
By resigning, Mayawati has tried to make this very important move forward. If you recall, BR Ambedkar, when he was not being heard by the government on the Hindu Code Bill, resigned as a minister from the government. Mayawati has gone into the annals of history as a torchbearer for the people's issues of this country.
We recently saw the results of the UP elections, where BSP could not even touch the 20-seat mark while the BJP got a thumping majority. This suggests that a large section of Dalits saw hope in the BJP and voted for them.
Well, Ambedkar also lost an election. That does not mean that the issues were not there. We have lost one election, but we have not lost support of Dalits.
We got 23% of the vote when the Dalit population in UP is just about 22%. The opposition vote was divided and there was a certain amount of management through the EVMs, therefore that is a different issue altogether.
It is not always about winning or losing the election. Parliament imposed Emergency, but does it mean it was the right thing to do? People fought and defeated the Emergency.
Similarly, Mayawati may have lost one election but we have not lost the war which will continue till we have won the final battle on equality and for the rights of the Dalits and the poor.
The timing of the resignation appears to be a little suspect as it comes at a time when the BJP’s presidential candidate, who also happens to be a Dalit, will most likely enter Rashtrapati Bhawan.
Rashtrapati Bhawan has seen a Dalit president earlier in KR Narayanan who was much taller, and a much more accomplished person. These are tokenisms. These tokenisms will help this Modi government. On the other hand in Una, you lash the back of the Dalits, parade them, beat them up; you force Rohith Vemula to commit suicide; and you lynch Akhlaq.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has not addressed these issues.
But on the ground, sections of Dalits also complain of how Mayawati has also done only tokenisms when it comes to working to improve their plight. Is this resignation another such token step?
Mayawati has risen from the ranks. She was born in a slum and brought up by the poorest of the poor - the most marginalised families of this country. For decades she has fought for the rights of the Dalits. It is incorrect to say she only believes in tokenism.
Is this resignation a desperate measure since the performance of the party has been so poor in recent elections?
I don’t think so. In the Lok Sabha elections, we got 19.9% votes. Three years later, our percentage has improved by about 4%. Seats may vary. As far as the people’s support to BSP is concerned, it has been growing. The party has a stable base.
Parties lose elections sometimes. I also remember BJP bagging just two seats. We have seen AB Vajpayee, Chaudhary Charan Singh, Indira Gandhi lose elections. Victories and losses do not matter. The issue is how far and how much you are committed to the real issues of the people.
Now that she has resigned from Parliament, what is the future plan of action?
Mayawati will take the call. Workers of the BSP will fan out to the people of this country. We will raise issues of farmers suicide, unemployment among youth, black money, atrocities against Dalits, the lynching of the minorities, and the law and order situation.
But do you not think that if the BSP had done an alliance with other parties - like-minded Opposition parties - it would have been a more formidable opposition?
Again, Mayawati will take a call. She and our party leaders have been attending the meetings of opposition parties. Recently, during one of the opposition rallies, she spoke of how we are going to work towards the consolidation of democratic forces in this country.