Maya's travails

Maya's travails

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati’s response to the legal hurdles to her plans to set up Ambedkar parks and Kanshi Ram memorials was quite brave and intelligent. A team of anti-Maya lawyers (belonging to both BJP and Congress ideology) filed a public interest litigation in the supreme court pleading to stop the construction.
The supreme court constituted a committee, which held that there is great danger to the environment of UP because of these parks, though they are not polluting industries. There is not enough evidence that in order to construct these statue-parks, they had cut down any trees at all.

Based on the recommendations of the experts committee, the supreme court ordered stoppage of work at all construction sites. The court threatened to forcefully stop the work or otherwise it would take over the sites by deploying special armed forces. Hence the work was stopped.

However, within a few days, Mayawati declared that her government would build massive Kanshi Ram green parks around Lucknow and other cities of Uttar Pradesh. She also announced that a long stretch of green corridor would be created on the outskirts of Lucknow. If the anti-Mayawati forces want to cut her sovereign powers based on the democratic decision of her cabinet (right or wrong) by using the court, she wants to assert her power. She wants to appeal to the psychological alienation of the Dalit masses and show them that she was bent upon creating alternative sites of socio-spiritual satisfaction of those people by building more Dalit-Buddhist icon parks.
After all, the Dalits and green environment are not enemies of each other. They did not cut down forests to own hundreds of acres of land nor did they cut down trees to build mansions for their comfortable living. But to see how much teakwood is there in the houses of the every principled environmentalist of Delhi and other cities one only needs to visit their houses.
So like Orwellian principles of ‘Animal Farm’, the theory of even simplicity and environment changes from caste to caste and culture to culture. Even the courts seem to be getting drawn into this controversy. That it poses a danger to democracy needs to be seen in future. Already the Dalit-Bahujan masses have been losing faith in our judicial institutions. If the courts involve in far-fetched interpretative judicial activism in Dalit cultural life (of statue building or otherwise) their alienation would become more pronounced. That does not harm Mayawati but harms democracy, rather irreparably.

There is a gross mis-reading of Mayawati’s abilities to handle her own affairs. We do not know how much money she has but she has enormous courage and confidence. Though efforts are on to dislodge and destroy her legally, she seems to be gaining politically.
On the one hand, Congress is attempting to take her Dalit and Brahmin vote-bank away and on the other, it is attempting to project the Brahmin leadership at the top (Rita Bahuguna Joshi, Manish Tiwari and so on). At the ground level, it is sending Rahul Gandhi into Dalit huts to eat with them and sleep in their homes so that a psychological repositioning of them could take place. But will the Congress succeed?

While all her opponents are trying to drag her into litigations so that her administration becomes totally dysfunctional, she seems to be gaining strength. If a political issue is sought to be settled through the legal means, it would have different implications to our democracy. If Mayawati is spending money on monuments when the masses are suffering from lack of food, education and employment, such a government should be faced politically only.
The recent byelections in UP have shown that her voters are not getting alienated from her. If more and more feeling of harassment on account of Ambedkar parks is generated, then more and more consolidation of the Dalit vote would take place and Mayawati will prove her opponents wrong.

She has an ideological agenda. The rock bed of that agenda is the Dalit social force. The BSP from the days of Kanshi Ram has an ideological position on men and matters. The Congress and more so, the Samajwadi Party cannot convince the Dalits on that count.
The Samajwadi party, in particular, has no ideology whatsoever. The Lohia-JP ideology has no social basis. The Muslims have no problem with her so long as she does not allow the BJP to play round.

If Ambedkar parks that are coming up as alternative sites of socio-spiritual culture of Dalits are shown as anti-democratic by the Hindu legal pundits, the Dalits will tell them that they will back Mayawati more and more on religious and ideological grounds.
As these parks are essentially anti-Hindu-Buddhist monuments, she is constructing history. If they stop her activities in the name of protection to environment, the Dalits might feel that the so called environmentalists have saffron threads to their wrists and that is where they see a common ground between the BJP, the Congress and the Samajwadi Party.