I hear a lot about Mayawati and how she has an outside chance to even become the next PM. I’ve seen her consolidate her base in UP and make inroads into neighboring states like Haryana and MP. Her initial strategy is to establish her base and split the vote banks of the ruling parties, mostly the Congress but also the BJP. Then she moves in and plays caste politics of the worst kind to make her own vote bank and gain further ground.
To many it might sound like politics as usual, after all the INC has relied on the muslim vote in many areas for ages, the BJP considers the urban middle class as its own, Laloo holds the Muslim-Yadav vote in Bihar and so on. But I feel Mayawati takes this a step too far. While other politicians have cultivated their constituencies, she has a more direct approach. She only looks at how much clout a particular group has in a specific area. If your group can sway the elections, make your demands and they shall be met with. Look at the way she is accepting Brahmins into her fold after castigating them for so many years. Doing so gives her the influential Brahmin vote in UP, so why let something small like her own word stand in the way? And this is what is happening in some way or the other over large tracts of India.
Last week, voting took place in Laloo’s constituency, and the Indian Express reported a Yadav voter from there agreeing to the fact that Nitish Kumar had brought roads and development into the area, but he was still voting for Laloo because voting was a matter of community pride. I thought voting was a matter of development and issues concerning the same. I always used to wonder why MPs never bothered to develop their constituencies when doing so would ensure their re-election. Now I know. Why make the effort when your voters are still going to vote based on which caste or group or religion you belong to? If these narrow benchmarks are to define our votes, then God help India. And this very group mentality is what Mayawati seeks to exploit, to a greater extent and more vigorously and more shamelessly than any politician previously. I guess, every caste, religion, etc would form their own vote bank and demand concessions for themselves based on how large their group was. Jats wanting reservations in Rajasthan and vociferously opposing the same for others in Haryana, Sikhs wanting minority status in a state where they comprise 70% of the population…. Where does this end? And what of India in the meantime, while we are figuring out which community gets how big a piece of the pie?