The BJP’s response to Singh’s comments reflects its desperation to win over the Dalit vote. But an angry and reinvigorated Mayawati will keep the issue burning
Lucknow: While giving Mayawati a shot in the arm, the derogatory remarks made against the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) supremo by Dayashankar Singh, the BJP’s now-sacked UP vice president, were bound to cost the saffron brigade dear.
Mayawati, who had been lying low since two senior party colleagues, Swami Prasad Maurya and R.K. Chaudhari, marched out of BSP, is suddenly back in the thick of things – all thanks to Singh’s vitriolic against her. She went the whole hog against the errant BJP leader, such that she herself crossed all civil limits to hit back in the same coin. Strangely, none of the BJP bigwigs who were present in the Rajya Sabha raised even a mild objection to her wild retort. Even finance minister Arun Jaitley preferred to remain silent, although it has been widely believed that Singh was his protégé and was being propped up as a rival to home minister Rajnath Singh’s son, Pankaj, who was emerging as a natural successor to his father’s Thakur legacy in eastern UP.
Dayashankar Singh, a recently appointed vice-president of the BJP’s state unit, had been entrusted with a key position for the first time in his brief political career. It was his quest for quick prominence – which all lumpen elements easily get – that likely propelled him into making such a shocking statement against Mayawati.
The outrage that followed from different quarters was something that Singh perhaps did not fathom. Little did he realise that such an utterance would not only land him in jail, but would also cause irreparable damage to the BJP’s quietly crafted strategy to eat into Mayawati’s exclusive Dalit vote bank. Clearly apprehensive of the BJP’s strategy, Mayawati of late was heard warning her followers not to get carried away by political gimmicks.
Sources close to Singh were shocked as the party instantly dropped the axe and virtually disowned him, while the UP police got into action and booked him under various sections of the IPC (153 -A, 504, 509 as well as under the stringent SC/ST Act), following which a state-wide manhunt was launched. “I wonder why our party suddenly came on the back foot when Daya Shanker ji had actually just repeated what BSP’s very own Swami Prasad Maurya and R.K. Chaudhari had already loudly made public,” argued a supporter on condition of anonymity.
Asked about the derogatory comment, the supporter said Singh’s intention was simply to draw attention to the manner in which party tickets have been sold by the BSP leadership.
Although Singh’s comment was unequivocally condemnable, what was equally astonishing was that none of the top BJP leaders reacted when Mayawati went about repeatedly using similar invectives for his wife and sister . There was sufficient reason for them to question Mayawati’s ‘tit for tat’ retort on the floor of the house. The least they could have demanded was the expunging of her remarks, which naturally came from anger. But what her followers did on the streets of Lucknow the following day – using all kinds of filthy words not only for Singh but his wife, sister and daughter – was surely well thought out and orchestrated.
The timid silence on the part of BJP leaders clearly reflects their complete lack of conviction as well as their desperation to win over some sections of the Dalit vote.
By now, the BJP leadership has likely understood how its game of wooing Dalits has suffered a serious setback. After all, party chief Amit Shah has left no stone unturned to win over Dalit voters – going to the extent of taking a dip at the Ujjain Kumbh accompanied by Dalits, sharing a meal with Dalits in Varanasi, and launching a publicity hype over celebrating Ambedkar Jayanti. Meanwhile, a demoralised Mayawati was looking for a plank to rejuvenate her rank and file, and Singh’s comment has allowed her to get her into combat mode.
Knowing Mayawati’s retaliatory instincts, it would be quite natural for her to not only make a huge issue out of this incident but to also keep its flame burning until the assembly elections next year. That would help in preventing any drift of the Dalit vote from the BSP – something about which she has been apprehensive over the past few months. Now with her renewed energies, she will get busy striking back in a manner that leaves the BJP gasping for breath.