As a Dalit and a woman, Mayawati Kumari has followed a surprisingly successful political trajectory. Born in Delhi to a Dalit family of Chamars, she completed her education at Delhi University and became a teacher. Facing segregation and discrimination in her daily life, she was naturally interested in the works of Dr. Ambedkar. In 1977, she joined politics under the mantle of her mentor, the Dalit leader, Kanshi Ram. When he formed the BSP (Bahujan Samaj Party) in 1984 to represent Dalits, she left her teaching job and dedicated her life to politics. In 2001, Kanshi Ram appointed her as his successor at the head of the BSP. She first became a Member of Parliament (MP) in 1989, then a member of the Rajya Sabha (Council of states), and finally Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, a post she held for several short periods—including a coalition with the BJP— before winning a solid victory in 2007. Called Behenji (sister), she is known for her strong personality. Directing her administration with an iron hand, she was able to implement policies in favor of the Dalits and backward castes. Eager to promote symbols of the Dalit community, she soon however displayed a personality cult which materialized in “pharaonic” works: giant parks, giant monuments, giant statues of herself and Kanshi Ram, to the extent that all these constructions had to be veiled for the 2012 assembly elections, on the order of the Election Commission. She lost these elections but nobody doubts that she will be back one day. It is to be noted that her defeat is partly due to the withdrawal of Muslims’ support.
BOSE, Ajoy. 2009. Behenji: A Political Biography of Mayawati. New Delhi: Penguin Books.
JAFFRELOT, Christophe. 2003b. India’s Silent Revolution. London: Hurst.