Never in the history of Indian politics has someone represented the hopes and dreams of so many as Mayawati has. Even Rajiv Gandhi's 3/4th majority in the Lok Sabha had to do with Indira Gandhi's assassination than any real identification with him or his politics. But Mayawati's ascent to the top post in India's most populous state was seen by so many as a sign of awakening of a people repressed for so long. To repeat an obvious but facetious comparison, her election and its ramifications for the Dalit people has been compared to Barack Obama's election and its influence on the African-American people. But Mayawati's tenure as UP's CM has not seen any dramatic improvement in the quality of life of millions of her die-hard Dalit supporters. But it has seen her personal fortunes go up dramatically.
But then, amassing personal wealth while ignoring the the very people who sent them to positions of power is written into the Indian politicians DNA. What makes Mayawati really different though is her single-minded determination to literally cement her place in Indian history. The 40 statues of Dr B R Ambedkar, Kanshi Ram and herself that she has built since 2007 at a cost of approximately Rs.2000 crore has already been reproved by the Opposition, independent commentators and the Supreme Court of India. The Supreme Court even went to the extent of threatening her with contempt of court for continuing work on her statues. Pro-Mayawati commentators have argued in favor of the statues saying represent a talisman of Dalit pride that was absent before. I guess then that they believe Pride trumps hunger pangs or abject poverty. However the latest gambit by Mayawati to spend taxpayer's money on her statues is the proposal to create a special elite force at a cost of Rs. 67 crores to the exchequer with the sole task of providing security to her statues. This in a state with so many other obvious problems that could've used the money or the police personnel. Its imprudent, impertinent and irresponsible. Unfortunately Mayawati has the required numbers to pass the bill that will make this latest bit of wasteful bragging a reality. And unless the judiciary can somehow put a stop to this, Mayawati will only be emboldened by her success at cocking a snook at the establishment. When that happens God help the state of Uttar Pradesh and even more importantly the legions of Mayawati's faithful followers.