In defence of Mayawati and the Dalit cause
The critics of Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) supremo Mayawati have already dubbed her "hasty" decision to resign from the Rajya Sabha as a "calculated" political step that is going to "misfire".
They are perhaps right. The entire unprecedented drama that unfolded right in front of television cameras--where a visibly angry Mayawati was seen walking out of the Rajya Sabha (before of course not forgetting to take her vanity bag from the chair) for not allowing her to speak about the atrocities against Dalits under the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) regime in Uttar Pradesh--initially "shocked" everyone.
Probably, nobody among us has seen such a scene in Parliament in our entire life. We have, of course, witnessed fisticuffs and throwing of chairs and tables inside Parliament and state assemblies on a frequent basis (the tamashas of democracy).
But, when was the last time we saw an angry senior woman politician, leaving Parliament in a huff and tendering her resignation within hours of stating that if she was not allowed to speak about the weaker sections, then she has got no moral right to be in the House.
Those who are not aware about the "politics" involving Mayawati's resignation would definitely sympathise with her-- who became a martyr for the cause of Dalit rights.
However, her opponents--mostly leaders from the BJP and the media--were quick to enlighten the 'naïve' voters that Mayawati is not a "victim", rather an "opportunist", who in order to save her political career decided to quit Rajya Sabha just a few months ahead of the end of her term in April 2018.
They also pointed out that it was a last ditch attempt by Mayawati to portray herself as the "sole" leader of the Dalits. Remember, analysts since the BSP's debacle in the UP assembly elections earlier this year, where the party managed to win just 19 out of the 403 seats, have been stressing that the Dalit community has lost faith in Mayawati and her colleagues.
The leaders of the party refute such a "reading" and state that the BSP is steadily maintaining its 21 per cent vote share (which is mostly the Dalit votes) in the last few elections including the Lok Sabha polls of 2014. It is because of other castes and communities that have tilted more towards the BJP which lead to the party's defeat in elections, stress BSP leaders.
Thus Mayawati, who has almost zero chance to make her comeback in the Rajya Sabha next time (provided her sympathisers like Lalu Prasad Yadav and the Congress don't support her), decided to quit in a "haste" raising the cause of Dalit atrocities.
However, what the experts forgot to understand is that why Mayawati has been able to bring back the Dalit cause to the forefront at this time.
It's simple (you don't have to be a specialist to understand it). Atrocities against Dalits like the Muslims are on a rise across the country under the BJP regime. And, like a typical "calculating and opportunist politician", Mayawati, who had ruled over UP four times as its chief minister, decided to use the Dalit card, once again.
The Dalit czarina's attempt to rebuild her career using the backward caste bogey could be opportunistic, but the cause she has raised is definitely a matter of huge concern (often dismissed from national discourse exactly the same way Mayawati was not allowed to speak).
Atrocities against the Dalits are on a rise. The official figures state how number of cases of violence and discrimination against the Dalits are increasing under the Prime Minister Narendra Modi's rule.
Around 9,000 cases regarding atrocities committed against Scheduled Castes were received by the National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC) till May in 2015 itself.
While the number of cases received in 2014-15 was 9,728, it was 602 during 2013-14, the NCSC data said.
Moreover, figures available with the NCSC reveal that UP, Rajasthan and Bihar lead the country in the number of cases pertaining to crimes against the SCs in the year 2013, 2014 and 2015.
Fifty-two to 65 per cent of all crimes in Rajasthan have a Dalit as the victim. With 20 per cent of India's Dalit population, UP accounts for 17 per cent of the crimes against the weaker castes. Bihar too has a poor track record, with 6,721 to 7,893 cases of atrocities in the same period, contributing 16-17 per cent of the all India crimes against Dalits with just eight per cent of the country's SC population.
If these figures are not appalling, then we don't know what to say. Often discrimination and violence against Dalits go unreported. However, once in a while some cases do get some attention, like the flogging of Dalits in Una, Gujarat, suicide of Dalit research scholar Rohith Vemula in Hyderabad and the most recent crimes committed against Dalits by upper castes in Saharanpur, UP.
If a leader like Mayawati, who is one of the most well-known Dalit faces that the country has seen, raises Dalit issues--it seems to hurt a section of the media and the BJP.
The reason behind it is again simple--all the opponents of Mayawati are not disturbed because they hate political opportunism (tell us about one politician who is not selfish?)--they just don't want to upset the apple cart of Brahmin and upper caste politics, which the BJP infamously indulges in.
Do we need to say anything about the critics from the media--one more field which is dominated by the upper castes? In such a scenario, Mayawati and her likes (even if they are not from the political field) will never get support from mainstream India.
Those who are currently opposing Mayawati and calling her names should remember that a country which calls itself a democracy shares a shameful past and present of Dalit atrocities and discrimination.