Saturday, May 12, 2007

Mayawati Wants Delhi

In the wake of her unexpectedly strong showing in the UP elections, Mayawati has announced that she wants BSP to lead the central govt in New Delhi also. Well, at least nobody can accuse her of thinking too small. Although she comes from a dyed-in-the-wool socialist background, she seems to have recently realized the great rewards to be reaped from abandoning the politics of caste-division.

We need to think about this. If a dalit-led party stripped of its caste-baiting were to embrace all other Hindu communities, it could make for a usefully stable centre-of-gravity that opponents wouldn't be able to crack.

But would it amount to a socialist takeover of the country? As the W.Bengal marxists have shown, once in power even the most vociferous socialists are willing to wholeheartedly embrace the forward-looking vision of capitalist growth over the dead-end stagnation they all inwardly know socialism represents.

Only Nixon can go to China. Likewise, it might take the lower-class credentials of a Mayawati to rally the entire Hindu community more solidly under a common banner, so that the nation can plunge ahead into the more aggressive economic reforms necessary to sustain and build on current economic momentum.

I'd prefer if a party with a more longstanding record on free market privatization like BJP were to be the spearhead of economic renewal. But because of the current lacklustre leadership, it's not clear that BJP is pushing strongly enough in the right direction. If Rajnath is favoring caste-based quotas, then what the hell do we need him for?

I'm wondering if a BSP-led national govt with BJP as a junior partner, might not be comparable to a Court of Akbar, the Moghul ruler who allowed himself to be advised by Brahmins and other infidels. What we would want to particularly avoid is an electoral face-off at the national level between BSP and BJP, which would only play into the hands of the Congress, the two Yadavs, the leftists and the other regional parochialists.

If Mayawati's current giddiness over her newfound success could persuade her to open up to Modi, that might be a useful axis to oust Sonia & Family from their Delhi Darbar(let's not forget Arjun, either). Maybe somebody like a Kalyan Singh could become a broker for this. With a more solid low-caste electoral mandate, economic reforms could then be pursued more vigorously.


Ghost Writer said...

The BJP's vote bank has been the upper caste and small business categories. A tie-up with Mayawati spells strategic doom - a bit like rearing a tiger to eat your enemy. One day you wake up and find that it has eaten you!!!
The BJP is now in a curious position. Mayawati has the potential to do to it - what Mulayam did to the Congress. Essentially eroded it's base and made it a non-entity.
Just as the Muslims deserted the Congress and have never come back (don't listen to what the pollsters say) - the same could happen to the BJP if Mayawati delivers even a semi-functional government.

An interesting possibility for the political future is a 'soft Hindutva pole' vs. 'OBC-Muslim-Welfare state pole'. Only in this configuration the national parties are not dominant; but we find adherents to each pole regionally. Hence a Mayawati vs. Mulayam in UP; Nitish vs. Laloo in Bihar; Amma vs. assorted Kazhagams in TN; JD-BJP vs. Congress in Karnataka etc.
In such a configuration - the BJP cedes more and more ground to alliance allies at its own cost.

However, in the long run it may be a good way to consolidate a Hindu vote and provide some relief to Hindu society from the Muslim-Mandal-Marx combine. The BJP never really cobbled together a Hindu vote on a pan India basis - perhaps a federation of regional players will have better luck!

san said...

GhostWriter and others -

It's being reported that RSS is not averse to Mayawati's "soft Hindutva" approach:

RSS is unhappy with BJP's campaign, but are sparing Rajnath for some reason. Well, they either need to change Rajnath for someone who knows how to rally the public, or else they should see Mayawati's rallying sans caste-baiting as something useful.

GhostWriter, BSP's grabbing of "upper caste" votes was due to BJP's self-inflicted damage of supporting quotas. If BJP is targetting "upper castes" to score political points, then what do they have left to offer?

If BSP swallows more BJP constituents by becoming less socialist and less casteist, then how is that a defeat, to you? I call that a Trojan Horse victory.

The thing is that BSP's turning of a new leaf has opened up a new dynamic that can be used to catch the Congress and the Left off guard. I'd say that BSP's demographic appeal poses more threat to the parties of the Left than to BJP. How will the Left be able to effectively oppose a champion of the lower classes who is embracing all Hindus irrespective of caste? The commies can't credibly accuse her of being an upperclass elite. They'll be overrun, just like Janata Dal was.

BJP's traditional platform is too distinctive to be absorbed by others -- it's the Left/Communists who aren't distinctive enough from the old BSP platform. It's only the fact that BSP has now suddenly deviated from their tired old socialistic/casteist platform that it offers a chance to catch the Left/Commies off guard, including also the Congress.

Ghost Writer said...

I fear you have confused several things at the same time
How will the Left be able to effectively oppose a champion of the lower classes who is embracing all Hindus irrespective of caste?
Actually - the left is not a factor in UP. Perhaps you meant OBC-Muslim (called Mandal Muslim combine). This is the vote bank of all left of center parties everywhere. Please note that Mayawati has not embraced all castes - only Dalits and assorted upper castes. Mulayum's OBC base has not deserted him in any great measure.

The left will oppose her by either of two ways
1- Increasing SOP's to OBC/Muslims through the abuse of the welfare state - so as to consolidate and entrench the vote bank
2- Trying to reach out to Dalit's to dilute Mayawati 'transferable vote bank' - it will not work. The BSP has a strong cadre that will prevent it and the OBC's have been seen too long by the Dalit's to be their oppressors.

So in the long run you are left with Mayawati needing to keep some upper caste swing votes + Dalit base.

She is competing directly with the BJP for the former. I do not begrudge Mayawati her victory - but I think you must stop being dewy eyed about how this was achieved and what it means for the future.

san said...

GhostWriter, I hear what you're saying. I'm not saying I trust her 'good nature' so much as that I think BJP is currently lacking a way to bypass the realities of caste-based/class-based obstacles. Kalyan Singh's a good guy, but we need more. At the same time, Mayawati's seen fit to stop her caste-baiting. She's not doing it out of some internal goodness, so much as seeing that she can reap dividends from it. And that's what she needs to be kept thinking. Because ultimately, the average Leftist just wants power. Once they taste it, they don't want to give it up, and they'll even abandon their ideological pretensions to keep it, as we saw with our neo-capitalist commies in W.Bengal, or with George "say no to Coke" Fernandes, or Nitish Kumar.

As for Mayawati competing with BJP to woo "upper caste" votes, is it so bad to be wooed so much? BJP is only paying the price for going the quota route. But while they don't think they can credibly oppose quotas, Mayawati may have more latitude than them, given her lower-class credentials.

Consider - when was the last time we saw the "upper castes" being sought after? Their votes have always been taken for granted. As far as mid-level castes not feeling included in the Hindu unity, they're the ones who bailed and shacked up with the Ummah.

Regarding portents for the future, I'm only looking upto the point of throwing out the Euro-trash occupying the Central govt. Once they're out of power, the Congress sycophants will realize how Sonia & Son have frittered away the anti-incumbency vote gifted to them, and will flee the Family and their coterie.

Besides, why should BJP be the only party to be "tainted" by capitalism? As you say, BJP has had to compromise as part of coalition-building, but they've done a better job pushing free market reforms than the waffling UPA has. And the flip side to these compromises is that the other coalition partners get "tainted" by the "stain" of free marketeering (eg. TDP and Chandrababu Naidu)

So we ride with Mayawati for awhile, getting her onboard the India Shining glam-wagon. Then if BSP implodes like TDP, at least they won't be able to go back to full-throated socialism, once the capital-free virginity is lost.

aa said...

a simple google search will reveal this - mayawati's stated goal is to become the prime minister of india and thereafter lead a massive conversion-to-budhism function in delhi, similar to what ambedkar did years ago in nagpur(?). this aim of mayawati was articulated by her very recently - when kanshi ram died and she took a vow to fulfill ambedkar's dream.

her venomous attitude towards hindu/hinduism is not diluted one bit by her co-opting "upper castes" into her party... it only serves to strengthen her efforts to become an acceptable PM. she is sacrificing her ideology now in order to deal a death blow later. full marks to her for her open espousal of her goal.

san said...

LOL, she can't just pass an executive decree to convert people to Buddhism. Those who want to convert would do so anyway, and don't need a directive from the PM.

Mayawati can no sooner convert everyone to Buddhism than Sonia can convert everyone to Catholicism.

Anyway, some speculators are trying to stir trouble by opining that BSP will try to unseat Modi next:

I don't believe this is possible. Those who vote for Modi have nothing in common with those who vote for BSP.