Mayawati, political heir of Kanshi Ram and first Dalit CM of UP
Representing 80 of the Lok Sabha’s 543 seats and a 403-member Assembly, Uttar Pradesh, with its more than 15 million voters, is India’s most politically important state. Since January 25, 1950, when the United Provinces was renamed Uttar Pradesh, the state – through 17 Assembly elections – has determined the course of national politics, launching a legion of stalwarts, ministers in leader and prime ministers. However, of his 21 CM, only Yogi Adityanath, Akhilesh Yadav and Mayawati have completed a full five-year term, reflecting the intense volatility of his politics. Also within the range of the CMs is the truth about state caste equations. Ten of his 21 CMs have been Brahmins or Thakurs. The others include three Yadavs, three Baniyas, one Lodh, one Jat, one Kayasth, one Dalit and one Sindhi. A series on the history and political changes of UP through its CMs.
When Mayawati was sworn in as Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh for the first time on June 3, 1995, it marked several firsts: the 39-year-old Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) The leader became UP’s first Dalit CM and India’s first female Dalit CM, although she also became the youngest CM in UP’s electoral history till then.
BSP’s alliance with the Samajwadi Party (SP) for the 1993 UP Assembly elections led to a situation after a year and a half that resulted in Mayawati being sworn in as the 17th CM of the PU.
Mayawati, born on January 15, 1956 in a village of Gautam Buddh Nagar, obtained her law degree at the University of Delhi. She started her career as a teacher in Delhi. After meeting Kanshi Ram, she became an active member of his organization, BAMCEF (All-India Backward Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Other Backward Classes and Minority Communities Employees Federation) since its inception in 1977.
When Kanshi Ram founded the BSP on April 14, 1984, she became deeply associated with it and became party president on September 18, 2003, when he could no longer continue in office due to his health problems.
In 1987 Mayawati contested the parliamentary constituency of Hardwar (now in Uttarakhand) on the BSP ticket, but lost. In the 1989 Lok Sabha polls, she won the seat of Bijnore, beating a candidate from Janata Dal. In the 1991 Lok Sabha polls she participated in Bijnore, Bulandshahar and Hardwar, but lost three seats.
Mayawati first took the reins of the UP government in 1995 under dramatic circumstances. Relations between the two partners in the coalition government, the SP and the BSP, were becoming increasingly tense and bitter. SP and CM leader Mulayam Singh Yadav then called a meeting of his party leaders and asked them to prepare for new polls.
Then the “guest house incident” happened. After stepping down from their coalition government, BSP leader Kanshi Ram and party general secretary Mayawati held a meeting of their legislators at Lucknow’s “VVIP Guest House” on June 2, 1995. Activists members of the SP allegedly stormed into the guest house and assaulted BSP lawmakers, forcing its senior leaders, including Mayawati, to take refuge in a “suite reserved for him in the guest house”.
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Seizing on this crisis, BJP opposition leaders met with Governor Motilal Vora, urging him to sack the Moulayam government. Vora asked Mulayam to step down and when he refused to do so, his government was removed from office. When Mayawati visited the Raj Bhawan, Vora showed her a letter from the BJP, which stated that if she formed the government, it would bring support from outside. Thus, Mayawati was sworn in as CM on June 3, 1995. She was, however, only able to continue until October 18, 1995, when the BJP withdrew its support.
Despite the fall of its government, the BSP was expanding its base in the UP, taking advantage of the growing aspirations of Dalits and other disadvantaged sections of society. The 1996 assembly elections resulted in a no-win verdict, in which the BJP won 174 seats to the SP’s 110 and the BSP’s 67 in the 425-member House. After a short period of the president’s rule, the BJP and the BSP have once again teamed up to form a government under an agreement that the post of CM will rotate between the two partners every six months. This led to Mayawati, who won the Badaun seat in Bilsi, being sworn in as CM for the second time on March 21, 1997. She resigned on September 21, 1997 in accordance with the terms of the agreement. But when Kalyan Singh of the BJP took over the reins of the CM, the BSP withdrew its support for the government.
The 2002 elections again saw a stalemate Assembly, with the incumbent BJP gaining 88 seats, the BSP 98 and the SP 143. It contested Harora of Bulandshahar and Jahangirganj of Ambedkar Nagar (now renamed Alapur) and won two seats . After another period of the president’s rule, the BJP and BSP forged an alliance again, with Mayawati being sworn in as CM for the third time on May 3, 2002.
But, soon after, she faced a backlash from a group of BJP MPs after her government booked independent MP Raguraj Pratap Singh (Raja Bhaiya) under the Prevention Act. of Terrorism (POTA), which was adopted by the Atal Behari Vajpayee government. Amid mounting pressure from the BJP, Mayawati resigned as CM on August 29, 2003.
Mayawati’s repeated terms as Chief Minister, however long, have played a remarkable role in ensuring the social and political empowerment of the Dalit community, which had never seen its representation at such an executive level in the state before.
Prior to the 2007 Assembly elections, realizing that the three main political players had peaked at a virtually similar level, Mayawati attempted to broaden his party’s support base through “social engineering”. She inducted Satish Mishra into the BSP and started an awareness of the Brahmin community through him. A seasoned lawyer, Mishra then defended her in various corruption cases.
His strategy of expanding his party from “Bahu Jan” to “Sarva Jan” worked as evidenced by the 2007 polls, in which the BSP single-handedly won a simple majority, winning 206 seats out of a total of 403 while BJP and SP were reduced to 51 and 97, respectively. She completed her full five-year term this time from May 13, 2007 to March 15, 2012, becoming the first UP CM to do so until then since 1952, when the first UP Assembly polls were held.
However, over the following years, its many party leaders and close aides left the BSP.
Mayawati’s four stints as CM lasted approximately seven years. She was also elected three times to the Rajya Sabha, four times to the Lok Sabha and twice to the UP Legislative Council.
In the 2012 Assembly polls, which saw a wave in favor of the SP, the BSP won 80 seats, while it dipped to just 19 seats in the 2017 polls amid a BJP wave. . In the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, she forged an alliance with the Akhilesh Yadav-led SP to take on the BJP, but that couldn’t stop the saffron party juggernaut.