Mayawati has built her entire political career around Dalits. She was the first Dalit woman Chief Minister in India, and rose to power on the issue of Dalit upliftment. She has been a highly controversial figure in the Uttar Pradesh politics. While millions of Dalits view her as an icon, her personal wealth has increased immensely in last decade, indicating her role in massive corruption at personal level. The conditions of Dalits in her state of Uttar Pradesh have not improved at all, and she has often been accused of using them as vote banks. Just before the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections 2017, she has once again played the Dalit card, where she and her party have gone on to advertise their pro-Dalit stand by offering 87 tickets to Dalit candidates for the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections.
Is Mayawati really pro-Dalit and working towards empowering the Dalits by providing 87 tickets to them in this high pitched battle for Uttar Pradesh ? The reality is far from this. As per the constitution of India, 15% seats in the Parliament or any assembly is reserved for the candidates from Scheduled Caste and another 7.5 % seats are reserved for the candidates belonging to the Scheduled Tribe. This means, the constitution of India says that 22.5 % seats must be contested by SC/ST community. Those assembly/parliamentary constituencies are reserved, and candidates belonging to the unreserved category cannot contest election from those constituencies. In Uttar Pradesh, which has a strength of 400 odd legislatures, there are 85 seats which are fixed for the candidates belonging to SC/ST category. In such a scenario, if she has given 2 extra tickets to the Dalit community, isn’t she fooling the Dalit community ? Every party is constitutionally bound to give 85 tickets to candidates belonging to SC/ST category. Also, Mayawati has given 97 tickets to Muslim candidates.
Mayawati has been an extremely divisive figure when it comes to caste-based politics. While she always claims to be fighting for the rights of Dalits, the conditions of Dalits have not improved in India’s most populous state of which she has been the chief minister four times. Playing the Dalit victim card whenever she has been caught for her wrong-doings and constructing statues will never uplift the Dalit community. It needs ground work, which she has never been interested in. Just like the so-called secular parties appease Muslims and view them as their vote banks, Mayawati has similarly fooled the Dalits since decades.