Maya can’t dance

Uttar Pradesh chief minister's angling for Third Front's PM candidate is quite premature

Sanjay Kapoor Delhi, Hardnews

Some one should tell Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister, Mayawati, that she is not ready for the prime minister's job yet. Though she is desperately seeking to fill the top post after the elections.

She rules Uttar Pradesh, the country's most populous state. But, that has not given her either the experience or the skill to handle a position that would warrant nuanced understanding of politics, foreign affairs and economy.

Besides, she would have to show magnanimity and sagacity in running a coalition where partners would make difficult demands. Till now, the ambitious lady has displayed none of these qualities. Mayawati, who sent her representative to Tumkur's Third Front meeting, reportedly told its leaders that she would join them if they declare her as their candidate for the PM's post.

Communist Party of India deflated her ambitions when they said categorically: "The Third Front will not project anyone as the prime ministerial candidate during the electioneering". Although the CPI leadership has acquired a horrible reputation of unabashed flip-flop on these issues, for now at least, Mayawati has got her ambitious dreams nixed. It is possible that CPI and the Third Front's reluctance to project her as the lady boss of their rag-tag formation stems from the reports that have been flowing from UP about her fast eroding support base.

In more than one year that she has been in power in UP, Mayawati's social engineering is slowly coming unstuck. She cannot command the support of all those social groups and castes that had rallied around her party, Bahujan Samaj Party, to see the back of her bete noire, an extremely discredited Mulayam Singh Yadav. At that time, she had managed to get the support of the upper castes, too.

Little later, she proved that she had not changed while in political wilderness. Mayawati quickly lived up to her reputation of being corrupt, whimsical, blinkered and arrogant. Liberal political commentators have taken a charitable view of her for many reasons: first, she is a woman and secondly, she is a Dalit. The gravamen of their defence that she should not be judged harshly as many upper caste politicians who have been in power are also corrupt, arrogant and a lot more. They aver that if Mayawati continues, she could change the politics in the country. Except consolidating her Dalit vote, she has not shown any evidence that she has the vision or skills to provide alternative politics in this country.

Since she has been in power, Mayawati's megalomania is showing up all over the state. Capital Lucknow has hoardings, cut-outs, and statues of Mayawati staring out from every where. She has also been on a bizarre construction drive: building walls along the road, huge structures that require interpretation from its builders. Many honest bureaucrats have been tossed around till they capitulated and agreed to do her bidding. "Things have gone so bad that even traffic roundabouts are sold to the highest bidding corrupt policeman," a home ministry official told Hardnews.

All politicians with a criminal past and who were part of Mulayam Singh Yadav's Samajwadi Party, have been lured to contest on her ticket. Her pandering to criminal elements has punctured her image as one who could tame law breakers. "Why should people of the state vote for her when there is nothing to choose between SP and BSP?" asked a bureaucrat who was close to her.

All these reasons and more have begun to hurt her. The view in UP is that Mayawati will not make much headway in this election and may get a few more seats than the last time. What about her strenuous drive to get the Muslim vote? If the election result in the Bhadoi by-election is anything to go by, then support for BSP looks quite ephemeral. This assembly seat had a preponderance of Muslim votes, but only a small proportion came her party's way. If Bhadoi indicates where the wind is blowing then it would be better if the Dalit leader concentrates in her own state to ensure that she returned with big numbers rather than spreading herself thin.