By Sushil Kutty
The mood in Uttar Pradesh is different from what it was before the last assembly elections. Things are on an unprecedented boil. Kashi, Mathura, Agra… Things happening with far-reaching implications. Before the elections, there was AIMIM’s Asaduddin Owaisi making a pitch for the Muslim vote, claiming he alone cared for the Muslims of Uttar Pradesh. The claimants for Uttar Pradesh’s Muslim votebank till then were Akhilesh Yadav and Behan Mayawati.
But when the results came, Owaisi’s ‘I’m Muslim saviour’ brag lay punctured. Now, after Gyanvapi mosque is in danger of being sidelined by a temple scare, Owaisi is back in the reckoning, reiterating to everybody who cares to listen to him that he’s not “going to lose a second mosque”, no never.
The AIMIM chief’s killer instincts are bristling. The challenge apart, that he will not “lose a second mosque”, Owaisi’s rejuvenated purpose is to once again try to install Owaisi as the lone saviour of the Muslims of Uttar Pradesh, and protector of contentious mosques.
Fact is, this time, Owaisi is, indeed, the lone ranger against the “Gyanvapi takeover” by “five women and the system”. Where has Behan Mayawati disappeared to at this time of, perhaps, the best conditions in two decades to make a comeback “with a bang”?
The last assembly elections had seen the almost complete wipeout of the Bahujan Samaj Party, largely because Mayawati was AWOL, and her Muslim votebank left her side to be at Akhilesh Yadav’ side in their bid to deliver death to the Bharatiya Janata Party.
That didn’t happen. The BJP romped home with government in the pocket. The Samajwadi Party also increased its tally, and its vote share, even as Owaisi’s AIMIM tucked tail and returned to the Charminar. But, of all the contestants and participants, the BSP, and Mayawati lost the most. A large section of the non-Jatav Dalit also dumped Mayawati.
Without Mayawati the BSP would slide into Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s and what have you not ailment. And now, when the BJP is neck-deep in squandering the ‘‘Muslim labarthi votebank” by targeting medieval mosques, four-time CM Mayawati continues to be MIA, and mum as the Egyptian mummy. Doesn’t Mayawati hear the ‘azaan’, so much has happened, from hijab to halal and loudspeaker, with the Hanuman Chalisa making its maiden entry?
Where are you Behen Mayawati? In your absence, a movie-actor-turned-independent political operative is making waves, chanting the Hanuman Chalisa, and challenging a CM like you once were. In your absence, the BJP seems to be full of oats. In your MIA status, nobody seems to be missing that you are missing in action. Nobody is even asking, “Who is afraid of the Elephant?” If that is not dismissal with contempt, what is?
Post the UP poll debacle, Behen Mayawati did appear at the podium once, addressing party and press, telling all in her stoic as teak manner that this was why the BSP lost, and where the BSP would be going in the months and years to come. People heard her out and she went back to her silence. Now, when Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath is getting a free hand to do whatever he deems fit, Mayawati is nowhere to be seen or heard.
Also, Owaisi is making all the noise that Mayawati rightly should be making, to reestablish her credentials, and lay claim to the Muslim vote-bank, which she lost to whoever came along. The Muslims right now are feeling like they have been orphaned by both father and mother, and they are ripe for the adoption.
The Congress voice is so feeble that it cannot be heard, and the Samajwadi Party helmed by Akhilesh Yadav is back to sparring and warring. This is when a leader with a mass following, such as Behen Mayawati, should be on the roll, raising Cain over every real and imagined wrong done to the people of Uttar Pradesh. If the Muslims are waiting to be courted, Mayawati’s Dalit non-Jatav votebank is also looking for a leader.
But nothing seems to move Mayawati. It is as if her mojo has abandoned her, and the words have left her. Every passing day is making it difficult for Mayawati to script a comeback. And, because she did not nurture and nominate a successor, the BSP would not last long after Mayawati. The most recognizable Dalit face after BR Ambedkar will fade in the fickle political woodwork. (IPA Service)