RELIGIOUS ADHERENCE OF MOTHER TERESA: INSPIRATION BEHIND HER WORK

It is in such a bad taste that the mind desperately urges to run away from the TV sets or think of that impossible situation where they all could be dumped somewhere deep so that their twisted voices cannot surface. These so called Seers, Gurus, Saints, the modern day Shankaracharyas, the Sadhus, the religious Satraps, and their ugly bickering in the name of sanctifying the religion and their silly and unpardonable crusades – who is asking them to represent us – who are they to interfere in our personal matters?

Practicing religion is personal and no one has any right to issue a diktat to follow this or that God or this or that Saint or a diktat on whom to believe in as a God. But ‘they doing so’ tells us they do not follow the religion they boast to represent. In fact no religion allows for gaudy display of God ownership and faith ownership. Unfortunately, such ‘representatives’ have had a long run.

Every religion, in its true essence, preaches and teaches love and peace. If we don’t talk of the distortions and the distorted leading opinions, no one religion imposes itself on the other. In essence, every religion is anti-crusade, in its purest, in its spiritual form. In fact, a devout religious soul respects other religions in the same way as his/her.

And who can symbolize it better than the Mother Teresa – who was born on August 26, 1910 in Albania, a European country under the Ottoman Empire then – and who spent her whole life in India since 1928. She was a devout catholic and followed the ways and the teachings of Jesus religiously. It is said Jesus came to her asking her to be His messenger, spreading the message of His love and peace by working for those who needed it the most, the poor, the needy, and in-turn, receiving the love and peace Himself, because He exists in every such soul. And she followed the message, with her beginning in 1948, when she established an order to work for the poor, and she was soon to become the Mother.

It hurt Jesus to love us, it hurt him. And to make sure we remember his great love he made himself the bread of life to satisfy our hunger for his love. Our hunger for God, because we have been created for that love. We have been created in his image. We have been created to love and be loved, and then he has become man to make it possible for us to love as he loved us. He makes himself the hungry one – the naked one – the homeless one – the sick one – the one in prison – the lonely one – the unwanted one – and he says: You did it to me. Hungry for our love, and this is the hunger of our poor people. This is the hunger that you and I must find, it may be in our own home.
(From the Nobel Lecture delivered by the Mother on December 11, 1979 on being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.)

She remained a devout Catholic throughout her life but devoted her life to the people of a largely Hindu country. She never asked for the religion. Her doors were open to everyone. She found Jesus in every needy soul. She became so Indian that she is known as the ‘Blessed Teresa of Calcutta’. In fact, her religious adherence was her inspiration, the force behind her motherly love. People loving her are in every walk of like, in India, around the world, something that the so called religious satraps of Hinduism, Islam, Christianity or for that matter any other religion can never even dream of. What is happening to her Order is debatable and even Mother Teresa’s life and works have seen many controversies but when we remember her, the first image that comes before us is of a loving mother who gave her whole in the service of the poor. She remains among the people even after her passing away in 1997 because she remains in the soul of humanity.

Though she is going to be canonized on September 4 by the Vatican that will officially accord her the status of being a Saint, she has always been seen like the one. In fact, Saints should like her, a modern day Saint as the TIME magazine’s “Mother Teresa at 100: The Life and Works of a Modern Saint” rightly says, not like them who are ready to tear into each other yesterday and today, on TV sets, in public. Thanks for blessing humanity dear Mother. Thanks for blessing India. Thanks for being there for those who needed peace and who desperately needed help. Thanks for being there Mother.

©SantoshChaubey

GOD DIDN’T SAY YOU ARE A WOMAN AND THEREFORE DON’T COME TO ME. WE DID.

God is for everyone. God is of everyone. That is the ideal position but something that has been a deep rooted ‘glass ceiling’ phenomenon universally, in almost every religion with different hues, in every society, in every country, including India.

We worship women. In Hinduism, Goddess Shakti is revered like the supreme deity. And it doesn’t end here. I am sure every religion has its own female deities. Yet we deny women the basic right – the right to equality in the places of worship.

And that’s why the court decisions like the one on the Haji Ali Dargah in Mumbai yesterday or the Shani Shingnapur temple in Ahmadnagar in April this year allowing women’s entry in the inner sanctum, so far barred for women, are important – away from the debates of such demands being being a mere publicity stunt – like we saw in Trupti Desai led movement that resulted in Shani Shingnapur verdict – or away from the political lethargy we see when the political class refuses to budge from its position keeping equations of the votebank politics in mind and it ultimately comes to the courts, the top custodian of our Constitution.

Court verdicts like these pull our attention to this very important discrimination prevailing in our society that we have so subtly legitimized – again in the name of religion – and have efficiently co-opted women to perpetuate such practices – out of fear psychosis – or emotional bondage – or cultural blackmail. You will find a major cross section of women advocating the women entry ban, be it Shani Shingnapur or Haji Ali. When women activists were planning to storm the Shani Shingnapur temple, women of the Shingnapur village and the nearby villages were preparing to stop them and a multi-layered security around the sanctum sanctorum.

Our scriptures say God is for everyone. They say He knows what is in our conscious and He comes to everyone. They say our faith is as important for God as God is for us. The Bombay High Court while delivering the order observed, “It cannot be said that the said prohibition `is an essential and integral part of Islam’ and fundamental to follow the religious belief; and if taking away that part of the practice, would result in a fundamental change in the character of that religion or its belief.” The High Court further summed up the spirit in its verdict, “There is nothing in any of the verses which shows, that Islam does not permit entry of women at all, into a Dargah/Mosque and that their entry was sinful in Islam.” (From the BombayHigh Court’s verdict)

When we worship our deities of both genders with equal faith and devotion, why do we discriminate between their devotees based on their genders? Why men fear women presence in innermost religious circles? That brings us to this point that religion is one of the most primitive tools to maintain male domination/hegemony in the society.

The court’s verdict on Shani Shingnapur was a slap in the face of orthodox Hinduism the same way as the yesterday’s is on Muslim fundamentalists, especially when women were allowed entry in Haji Ali’s inner sanctum till 2011-12. Haji Ali or Shani Shingnapur, they say the practice to deny women their basic rights in the religious places is not restricted to any particular religion. In fact, women have been historically denied their religious rights – and the problem is acute in religions like Islam or Hinduism or in different tribal sects. There are many taboos humiliating and restricting women rights in our society and this is one of them – a practice that has been made socially acceptable even if it is fundamentally wrong.

©SantoshChaubey

MOTHER TERESA OR MAHATMA GANDHI: GIVE THEM THE LIBERTY TO REMAIN HUMANS

Mother Teresa is probably the biggest humanitarian icon the 20th Century India has given to the world. And though her saintliness doesn’t need any endorsement like Mahatma Gandhi’s greatness doesn’t need a Nobel Prize, her Canonization on September 4, a day before her 19th death anniversary on September 5 and almost after a week of her 106th birth anniversary on August 26, is an event that the whole humanity should be looking up to, for it will further motivate the sisters and fathers of her Order, the Missionaries of Charity, and it will further entrench her legacy with a global footprint after the Vatican recognition.

Because there are many who continuously spew venom against her – on her means to raise and manage funds, like accepting donations from dictators or her firm religious/Catholic values on abortion or contraception or her hospices which she defined as the ‘houses of the dying’ which the critics say should have been replaced by hospitals much earlier or her support for Indira Gandhi and the Emergency of 1975.

Mother..

Such informed misinformation campaigns are run with no concern of or respect for rechecking and reconfirming the facts. Most of such ‘informed campaigns’ go without the ethical requirements of going out in the field to cross-verify the information and its context because the intent is biased mostly.

In case of cross-cultural critics, the methodologies of such campaigns are designed in cultural isolation and the folks never bother to know and understand the context associated with the place or attached with the person’s identity. They flimsily analyse and process the information based on their own cultural contexts and ethos looking at the facts from the spectacle of their own societies (or their own prejudices, that goes for the inland folks).

They simply don’t care about the contextual interpretation of ‘how, what and why’ of the ‘what they intend to do’.

They don’t care to understand the historical and the prevailing cultural context to get into the localized, contemporary context of a tradition/custom/activity/method/process of a place.

Instead, they go on criticising the Greats and sometimes go unrestricted in their choice of words to express their displeasures (anger or prejudice, alternatively or arbitrarily). They criticise the Greats even if they are no more present among us.

But does it matter? The Greats never believe in defending something that is so utterly misplaced or something that will obstruct them in their duty and responsibility to reach out and heal the humanity. The Greats don’t respond to because their emotive responses are concentrated on helping others.

Mother Teresa or the Mahatma, they kept on working for the well-being of the poorest of the poor. Souls like them who leave the aspirations of their material lives, how can they be blamed of being selfish or prejudiced or indulging in misappropriations? Almost of the Indians would not be aware of Mahatma Gandhi’s family tree after the Mahatma, the Great who got us Independence, the soul who kept on working for the last person of the society first. How can we see the Mother in a negative light when she spent her whole life in a small room without any material possession? After leaving her family at 18, she never saw her mother again.

Yes, the Greats, they can and they go wrong, for they are humans like you and me, but who are we, the living-beings of the material world, soaked up in our individual lives, absorbed by our own petty problems, who never venture out to feed even a single needy person, let alone helping the dying ones, to question the motives of the Greats?

Yes, the Greats, being humans like us, they all have their own limitations. Yes, they do win over them and manage them much more efficiently than us. But that doesn’t mean they cannot err. They are as much entitled to err like all of us are. They cannot be expected to be all-knowing or versatile.

But, then who is perfect? And don’t we criticise even God?

All the Greats who have walked so far, none of them was perfect, and never even claimed. In fact, being the human beings like you and me, they were always fallible, till the very end. Yes, they rose to become Great, but, intrinsically, they were the human beings who worked on their Good Self to dominate their Weak Self so effectively that they became God-like for us. Yes, but they were not Gods. The Weak Self was very much alive within them and that let the Greats remain among us, something they always aspired for.

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi began his journey to become the Mahatma as a fallible man, like all of us, and he remained fallible, like all of us, throughout his journey through life, from an early married boy to the Father of the nation, Bapu, to the Fatherly figure of the human conscience, he remained fallible.

But unlike almost of us, including the folks who run campaigns to discredit and dishonour the Humanity’s Greats, he always spoke of it, and he always atoned for it with his personal austerity and self-discipline, inflicting the severest pain on himself. All of the true Human Greats, the healers of the Humanity, were like him or he was like them, and all to come will be in the same league.

The world is not going to be moved, to be swept emotively or ideologically by a single soul and the true Greats never intended so. They all did and would be doing what the Humanity needs the most, caring for the billions of the needy, taking care of the emotional poverty and the chronic hunger.

We elect leader even after knowing their follies. And we blame them who work selflessly for the issues that we create from nowhere. A research study criticising Mother Teresa after 16 years of her death in 2013 based on interpretation of a 1981 incident blaming her supporting the Haitian dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier, while comfortably forgetting what she did for Humanity tells us this only, and bewares of such a mindset.

Give the Greats the liberty to remain humans . They crave for it in their private moments. Give them their freedom to remain fallible. Give them their moments to introspect. They deserve it after committing their lives for others, to us. Stop criticising her for her hypocrisy as some of her letters speak about her disenchantment from her belief in God. Doesn’t it happen with all of us?

©SantoshChaubey

JANMASHTAMI IS STILL WORSHIPPED IN ALMOST EVERY HINDU HOUSE BUT WITHOUT JANMASHTAMI TABLEAUS

Time changes things and the way we carry out many activities – even if the perspectives and the concepts behind those perspectives remain the same.

The same holds true about how we celebrate our festivals.

In our childhood, and even in teens, Janmashtami happened to be a community celebration where almost each household participated. Jhankis (tableaus) were created in almost every house in our locality. We would start preparing the day well in advance. Everyone in the family would be given or would take some responsibility.

Krishna is a mystical God but then it takes precedence of spiritual elements over ritual practices of religion to feel so, which the ordinary, worldly people seldom realize. Krishna Janmashtami, that is celebrated as Krishna’s birthday, is not heavy on rituals and is quite flexible – a worldly festival of a mystical God that we enjoy with song and dance.

Krishna is born in every household at midnight – as our scriptures say. And the rituals that we perform during birth of a child in our houses are performed then. This part was for family’s elders, especially my mother and father.

But every step leading to the celebration of the day was my favourite, topped by creation of different jhankis – depicting Krishna’s birth, Vasudev taking him to Yashoda’s house, various stages in life of Krishna with Kansa and his demons and various other tableaus to depict what my childhood would think about then.

I loved making mountain from black stones that I collected from factories in Varanasi’s industrial area. Krishna’s idol is placed inside a large-sized cucumber and after his birth at midnight and the ritual bath, he is placed in a cradle, adorned with new jewellery and clothes. Then, when we used to spend at least a week preparing to celebrate the birth, we would place branches of Carissa (Karonda), with plenty of leaves and fruits all around the mountain (created from stones) and around the cradle.

We would also run from this saw mill to that saw mill to collect sawdust and wood filings. We would then colour the same in different shades and use them in different tableaus – as the base (or the ground). Normally, one tableau would be separated from the next with small wooden blocks and colour of the sawdust. Sometimes, in some homes, coloured sand was also used, though I never used it.

Many small tableaus of different colours and with different themes together formed the grand ‘jhanki’ of every family. Sometimes it took two days to start and complete the final decoration with all tableaus conceived and created.

On the day of Janmashtami, in the evening, we would go to every house to see how the other fellow had done – that how if his jhanki was better than ours – that what he had done that we also could have done – that what was his scale relative to ours – a childhood mind primarily thinks in these terms after all.

But we would always come back in time for Krishna’s birth – that was the main attraction – with all the rituals in place and with all the ‘prasads’ that would follow. Krishna’s birth, like any child’s birth, has celebrations with lavish food preparations.

The ‘ritual part’ and ‘prasads’ that follow are still there but the part (or the parts) that took many days of preparation, in creating many tableaus for a grand ‘jhanki’, slowly and gradually went out of individual families. I don’t remember when we stopped doing it, but I know that probably no house in my locality does it so now. I have heard similar echoes while conversing with people on similar lines.

Janmashtami is still a community celebration and is still worshipped individually in almost every Hindu house, but the community nature of its celebration through individual houses, and jhankis has slowly and gradually gone out of our lives. Janmashtami tableaus are now only seen in temples, public institutions and religious places.

janmashtami-2015-12

JANMASHTAMI IS STILL WORSHIPPED IN ALMOST EVERY HINDU HOUSE BUT WITHOUT JANMASHTAMI TABLEAUS

©SantoshChaubey

O KRISHNA

O Krishna
You are the epitome of love
Of its purest expression

O Krishna
Your ways are mysterious
Its divinity transcendental

O Krishna,
Feeling You is like
Looking at life’s joys

O Krishna
You show us the way to live
To love, and to be

O Krishna
Show me the light
To see the life as it has to be

O Krishna,
Give me the courage
To become who I have to be

O Krishna
Let me have an evolved faith
That reverberates

janmashtami-2015-11

O KRISHNA

©SantoshChaubey

SIMPLICITY OF SHYAM, MYSTICISM OF KRISHNA

The beauty of black that It radiates
The light in the darkness that it shows
While thinking of You on this journey
While singing of Your mystical aura

The simplicity of Shyam that captivates
The mysticism of Krishna that transcends
In a God’s abode that belongs to us
On a journey with no beginning and end

You are the voice of universal creation
And we are Your manifestation
You are the faith in life personified
And we crave to bathe in this illumination

Yes, God You are, yet so human You look
You tell us the essence of human existence
You teach us of core human conscience
The Perfect One You are, the perfect Soul

janmashtami-2015-7

SIMPLICITY OF SHYAM, MYSTICISM OF KRISHNA

©SantoshChaubey

O KRISHNA, YOUR NIGHT AGAIN

O dear Krishna,
Well, it’s one year,
When I had made,
A plea so clear..

Now, that it is the time,
For you to manifest again
Now, that You have,
Arrived again..

I am asking for,
That mutual talk
I am speaking of
That silent walk..

You are the Source
You are the Soul
You are the world
You are the Goal

O dear Krishna
It’s Your night again
The day of Krishna and
The transcendental rain

Giving us the moments,
To dance, to sing, to pray
When You come,
To my home again this way..

Janmashtami 2015-9

O KRISHNA, YOUR NIGHT AGAIN

©SantoshChaubey

CAN RAJNATH SINGH’S VISIT BROKER PEACE IN KASHMIR?

The article originally appeared on DailyO.

Home minister Rajnath Singh is in Kashmir for a two-day visit – his second in less than a month. He is slated to meet officials from the state administration, state leadership and other stakeholders. Do other stakeholders include separatist leaders from the Valley?

The Indian government has been non-committal on the issue and the August 12 all-party meet had seen a similar stand. Before embarking on his visit this time, Singh held two rounds of talks with some eminent non-Kashmiri Muslims – on August 18 and 21. It raises the obvious question: why non-Kashmiri Muslims only or why Muslims only?

Some of the Muslim leaders present at the meetings were Shahid Siddiqui, former Rajya Sabha member, Qamar Agha, security affairs expert, Ishrat Masroor Quddusi, a judge of the Orissa High Court, Zafarul Islam Khan, editor of Milli Gazette and MM Ansari, a J&K interlocutor.

One may interpret that these meetings say the government thinks only Muslims can suggest better ways to handle the Kashmir unrest. If so, is this not bracketing the whole Kashmir problem as some religious/community issue? Or it is just half the story?

If Kashmir is an integral part of India, as every Indian must believe, then isn’t every Indian a stakeholder in the Kashmir peace process, whether Hindu or a Muslim? The exercise that Singh has done in New Delhi needs to see its extension in Kashmir. Most of the representatives in these meetings felt that the Kashmir situation was mishandled and an immediate course correction was needed.

The exercise that Singh will hold in Kashmir today and tomorrow should adopt this context as its backdrop, otherwise it will further alienate the Kashmiris who have genuine grievances.

The Indian security forces have efficiently checked cross-border infiltration, yet the current phase of unrest is now in its 47th day. That is unprecedented. An unrest so long cannot sustain itself if people come to realise that their demands are illegitimate.

Though J&K chief minister Mehbooba Mufti has said only five per cent of Kashmiris are instigating the unrest and finance minister Arun Jaitley has added that the stone-pelters of the Valley are “aggressors and not satyagrahis”, and blamed Pakistan for instigating the Kashmiri youth, there seems to be a clear departure in the government’s strategy this time.

The words of Mufti or Jaitley or other leaders on these lines indicate a tough stand that does not endorse the dialogue process. However, the efforts before Singh’s visit and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent emphasis on the dialogue process, reveal there is now a rethinking on the policy adopted so far by the Indian and Kashmir governments. It makes sense when we see the intent of Singh’s visit in the context of the outcome of Modi’s meeting with the delegation of J&K’s opposition parties, led by Omar Abdullah.

Modi, after meeting the delegation on August 22, had emphasised on the need for dialogue and to reach out. He tweeted after the meeting: “I appreciate the constructive suggestions given during today’s meeting. All parties must work together to find a solution to J&K’s problems.”

Unlike Jaitley, he didn’t paint the stone-pelters as aggressors. When he said every life lost in the Kashmir unrest, be it the youth, or security personnel or the police, is Indian, it was an indication of the things to come. And then came news of Singh’s visit.

Let’s hope the momentum sustains this time. The deployment of BSF companies in the Valley also tells us how serious the government is this time. It seems it doesn’t want to leave any loose ends. Initiation of the dialogue process to find a credible solution is a must but for any such attempt to succeed, it is also equally important to control the rogue elements who will try to sabotage any peace initiative.

The additional BSF reinforcement will account for any shortfall in security personnel numbers and will ensure effective patrolling of areas.

©SantoshChaubey

FROM AYLAN KURDI TO OMRAN DAQNEESH: SYRIAN CRISIS HAS ONLY GONE FROM BAD TO WORSE!

Five years ago, in 2011, when the Syrian revolution had begun, the US administration led by President Barack Obama had asserted that ‘Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s days are numbered’. Hillary Clinton, then the US Secretary of State and now the Democratic Presidential nominee, had reiterated this ‘version’ in 2012. It had given the Syrian people, those opposing Assad and the Syrian rebels, hope then that the Arab Spring would soon see a successful rebellion in the country.

Five years down the line, Syria has become the worst humanitarian crisis since the days of the Second World War. The images coming from the country are horrible. They leave you choked, sometimes in tears. And some of them become the global rallying points – like last year, when images of a three year old dead Syrian boy Aylan Kurdi washed ashore on a Turkish coast while trying to cross the Mediterranean to get into Europe – or last week this year, when the images of a five year old Syrian boy, Omran Daqneesh, stained with blood and rubble – became the global expression of outrage.

These two images symbolize what Syrians are going through. They have nowhere to call home – not in Syria – not outside Syria. Omran Daqneesh’s image is from Aleppo, a Syrian town that is considered rebels’ stronghold. Alylan Kurdi was found dead on a European coast. The five years of the Syrian civil war has effectively obliterated the past, the present and the future of the millions of Syrians.

Aylan-Omran

Image Courtesy: Reuters

When the Aylan Kurdi’s image had hit the world headlines in September 2015, some 13 million Syrians needed immediate humanitarian support. The figures from an Amnesty International report say that by September 2015, the Syrian civil war had left 220,000 dead, over 4 million refugees and 50 percent of its leftover population internally displaced (some 10 million).

From September 2015 to August 2016, the Syrian crisis has only gone from bad to worse. Now there are over 6.5 million Syrian refugees scattered in different countries. The civil war death toll now stands at around 500,000. If we draw a plausible line according to the figures available from the Syrian rebel factions and as per the increased hostilities aided by the Russian bombings, the internally displaced population now stands at around 12 million.

Yet the world community does nothing more than counting the Syrian dead while the number of victims is rapidly going up.

On one side, an emboldened dictator-cum-mercenary-cum-warlord-cum-butcher, after the Russian support, is slaying his countrymen in flocks, using even the chemical weapons. Then there are terror outfits like the Islamic State or the Al Qaeda affiliates or even the Syrian rebel factions. They have sandwiched the common Syrians – killing them, forcing them to live under siege or forcing them to flee the country – to a place where they don’t know if they will see the next dawn.

This ongoing horror has given us another event that once again raises questions on us being the members of a globalized world run by a globalized code with a unifying organization like the United Nations. Barring few, almost all countries are its members.

Events like Syria say the UN is failing; the world community is failing – because the Syrian crisis/civil war is now in its sixth year while the major police nations of the world, who invade an Afghanistan, an Iraq or a Libya, have let that happen. Afghanistan invasion could have been a spontaneous response to the 9/11 attacks in the US but the flimsy grounds on which the Iraq offensive had been launched has always been in questions. The latest British public inquiry report into the Iraq war, the Chilcot Report, which was submitted on July 6, 2016, states that Saddam Hussein didn’t pose imminent threat and that the war should have been averted.

In this globalized world, Syria has become the only war-torn/civil-war-hit country to see a decline in its population – with hundreds of thousands killed and millions displaced. According to reports, since the crisis began in 2011, Syria has seen some 11.5% decline in its population.

The never ending Syrian crisis has forced the biggest migration of people since the Second World War – a wave that the European countries are feeling too difficult a crisis to handle. Syrians are the biggest migrants group in Europe – those who have got asylum – those who are still waiting in the ‘nowhere’ zone – and those who lost their lives while trying to reach those elusive borders of the European continent.

The countless images coming out of Syria – of Omran Daqneesh, of Aylan Kurdi, of Syrians dying in chemical and explosive attacks, and of ghost towns with ravaged buildings – sum up the horror tens of thousands of human-beings are forced to live day in, day out, seeking the shore to fix their lives, a shore that is increasingly becoming elusive.

Yes, we live in a world that has always been plagued with ‘humanity killing developments’ like wars, crusades, religious wars, ethnic cleansings and the Holocaust, yet images like these, again and again, leave us thoughtless, speechless, soulless and lifeless. They say all. Their backdrop becomes hauntingly clear just by a mere look. Images like these make our lives beyond redemption. They put us all, the combined human masses of the world, in the dock over a crime that humanity can never get rid of. They rightly negate our claims of being the citizens of a civilized world.

©SantoshChaubey

LEADERS CONTINUE TO LEAVE BSP: WELL, THIS BOAT IS NOT SINKING!

Today, a Brahmin leader left the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) boat. It is continuing the flurry of exits the principal opposition party of Uttar Pradesh is witnessing.

But contrary to the ‘first response’ reflex, the BSP boat is not sinking. It is, in fact, projected to sail through the waves of the upcoming UP assembly polls easily to reach the power corridors of Lucknow, the UP capital city.

The fact is, the leaders who have left the BJP in recent days, mostly OBCs and Forwards, all have found their personal cruises coming to a halt in the party that was formed with sole aim of taking on OBC and forward communities but the electoral compulsions later on forced it to become from anti-Manuwadi to Brahmin’s newfound voice – the so-called Brahmin-Dalit social engineering that sent Mayawati zooming to UP chief minister’s office.

But Mayawati’s social engineering of a Brahmin-Dalit didn’t work in 2012 assembly polls. On the flip side, it in fact, alienated many Dalit voters who voted for the Samajwadi Party (SP), the main contender of the OBC votes in UP who constitute some 45-50 percent of the state’s population.

The SP, with a novelty factor of projecting a young and clean chief-ministerial face, Akhilesh Yadav, smashed the electoral scene and won the UP assembly polls with Muslim support who had always seen in SP a natural ally with Mayawati’s experimental bent towards the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP).

This time around, Mayawati is trying a different sort of social engineering – trying to front a Dalit-Muslim combine and encashing it with votes when the state goes to the polls next year.

Dalits (or SCs) are 20 percent of UP’s population while Muslims 18.5 percent. The BSP had got 30 percent votes in the 2007 assembly polls and won 206 seats. In 2012, the SP got 224 votes with a vote share of 29 percent. That means Mayawati has a window of 10 percent to work on here equations – as it is clear that not all of this is electoral population and not all of electoral population would vote for the BSP.

So, a combine 38.5 percent makes sense to go for. And the timing seems opportune. Muslims are miffed with the SP after a number of riots including the Muzaffarnagar riots of 2013 and Dadri lynching incident of 2015 where a Muslim was killed for allegedly consuming and storing beef.

What Mayawati needs is a strong polarization of the Dalit-Muslim combine in her favour and split in votes of other parties. And that seems most plausible at the moment. Forward castes may face a dilemma this time with Congress’ Brahmin card by announcing Sheila Dikshit as the CM face. Their condition becomes more precarious as the BJP, the party they were basing their hopes on in the recent times, chose to send a message that the party was going to adopt OBC politics when it appointed an OBC state president (Keshav Maurya) replacing a Brahmin (Laxmikant Bajpai).

OBC voters may face the dilemma because of the BJP’s projections of its tilt to the OBC politics – exploiting the sentiments on its state party president and Narendra Modi’s OBC background.

To continue..

©SantoshChaubey