The UP chief minister has found a new hobby. Writing letters to the prime minister, says Virendra Nath Bhatt
UTTAR PRADESH Chief Minister Mayawati has been waging an epistolary war against the Congress, having bombarded Prime Minister Manmohan Singh with over 100 letters since coming to power in 2007. The latest ones she has written demand reservation for the poor among the upper castes, Muslims and Jats.
From 17 to 19 September, she shot off one each day. The first demanded amending the Constitution to giving reservation to Muslims as per their share in national population. The second demanded reservation for the poor among the upper castes. The third, and certainly not the last, asked for inclusion of Jats in the Central list of reservation for OBCs.
Each of these groups, of course, are seen as vote banks, and are being wooed by politicians in the runup to the 2012 Assembly poll. “It is an established fact that Brahmins were instrumental in enabling the BSP to attain simple majority in the UP Assembly after the 2007 polls and form the government on her own — the first such government in UP since the 1991 Assembly elections,” says political analyst Ashutosh Mishra. “Given Mayawati’s inaccessibility, her dictatorial style of functioning and overall deterioration in quality of governance during her rule, Brahmins are no longer enamoured of the BSP,” he says.
Stark realities haunt the BSP. Its vote share in the 2009 Lok Sabha election plummeted to 27.42 percent against 30.43 percent in the 2007 Assembly elections. Also, against the 206 seats won by the BSP in 2007, Mayawati’s party could lead in only 100 Assembly segments falling under 80 Parliamentary seats in UP, during the 2009 Lok Sabha election.
Pointing out that writing letters is just posturing, UP Congress chief Rita Bahuguna Joshi told TEHELKA, “Instead of petitioning the prime minister, Mayawati should have taken the initiative to implementing the quota for Muslims in UP as done by Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and few other states.”
Rashtriya Lok Dal’s Jayant Choudhary also points out, “The Bihar government has constituted a commission to assess the educational, social and economic condition of the poor among upper castes. But Mayawati only writes letters,” says Choudhary.
The Samajwadi Party (SP) also dismissed the missives as a pre-poll stunt. “Writing letters to the PM is her favourite pastime. After heaping all sorts of humiliations and injustices on Muslims, she has suddenly developed concern for their upliftment. She never exerted pressure on the Centre for implementation of the Sachar committee recommendations,” says senior SP leader Azam Khan adding, “Mayawati is not even aware of the panel’s findings and recommendations.”
The barb about writing being just a pastime rings true. Other letters over the years have touched on piracy off the coast of Somalia, the murder of Dera Sach Khand leader Sant Ramanand in Vienna, and concern over the security of AICC general secretary Rahul Gandhi. In October 2008, she raised the issue of attacks on north Indians in Maharashtra, and in February that year, asked the PM to consider removing Delhi’s Lt Governor Tejendra Khanna for allegedly remarking that north Indians take pride in breaking the law.
Way back in December 2007, Mayawati put forth her views on reservation for the Mochi community in the SC category in Gujarat. She wrote at least four letters expressing concern over the lack of development in Bundelkhand; at other times, she discussed the Right to Education Act, the Justice Dinakaran episode and the women’s reservation Bill.
In 2007, Mayawati wrote 14 letters to the PM. In 2008, she was even more prolific, writing 41 letters. In 2009, despite being busy with the Lok Sabha elections, she found time to write to the PM 36 times.
So, is there a ghost writer? Sources close to Mayawati said she writes all political letters personally. “Since she alone decides her party’s agenda, the topics she writes on are entirely of her own choosing,” says a senior bureaucrat.
A BSP leader said the CM’s letters would stand as a ‘historical record’ for the party. “This is necessary for future generations to know the BSP’s views on all these issues,” says the leader.