During an election rally in Shahjahanpur of Western Uttar Pradesh, RSS strong man and BJP stalwart Amit Shah fired sexist salvo against the former Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, Mayawati and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for their strong opposition to Narendra Modi’s demonetisation exercise.
Narendra Modi’s protégé and former Home Minister of Gujarat, Amit Shah, while claiming about how the demonetisation of Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 notes have brought havoc in the lives of opposition politicians, forgot to mention that the Modi government has allowed the political parties to deposit their old currency notes to the banks and no questions will be asked regarding the source if the money can be shown as a sum total of the “anonymous” donations up to Rs. 20,000.
The volte-face of the Modi government on black money and sudden surge of singing paeans for a digital economy didn’t went well with the people of the country, as it’s clearly visible in the anger manifested by the common people against the Modi government at different places.
Faced with an unprecedented self-made crisis at home and outside just before the crucial Uttar Pradesh assembly elections, the BJP is utmost frustrated and so is the Sangh Parivar. Their frustration is now manifested through their random slurs and derogatory personal attacks against the opposition leaders by party leaders like Amit Shah.
The BJP chief Amit Shah is infamous for exhibiting the die-hard male chauvinist and misogynist sentiments that a typical Sangh conduit transmits. Amit Shah was earlier accused of snooping on a woman using the state machinery, during his tenure as the Home Minister of Gujarat, he saved himself using excessive pressure on the administration by pulling the strings of the Sangh affiliated bureaucracy.
Earlier this year, before Amit Shah became a loose cannon, the former state vice president of the Uttar Pradesh BJP and a feudal landlord, Daya Shankar Singh, abused Mayawati for her agitation against Sangh’s Brahminical oppression of Dalit people throughout the nation. The nationwide condemnation of this Thakur leader’s misogynist remarks and snubbing of the Sangh Parivar though brought the BJP on its knees, however, the saffron unit refused to learn any lesson from it. Under the covert patronage of Amit Shah, the leaders of the Uttar Pradesh unit of BJP and the RSS turned Daya Shankar Singh into a champion of the savarnas in the state.
When the BJP chief Amit Shah made his vile remarks on the physical appearance of the two prominent women politicians of India, he clearly manifested the level of utmost frustration that the RSS and its close allies are experiencing since the tides of the public mood started changing in the country following the demonetisation drive by the Modi government.
While on one hand, Mamata Banerjee took up the mammoth task of building up a streamlined attack against the Modi government by integrating as many opposition parties in her bloc, Mayawati, on the other hand, didn’t just stopped at opposing the heinous design of the Modi government to help the big corporations using the cover of demonetisation, but she also exposed the hardcore anti-Dalit and pure Brahminical mindset of the BJP, which carried out severe tortures on the oppressed castes on behest of the upper-caste feudal landlords, usurers, money lenders and traders.
Mayawati, who lost her Party’s Lok Sabha presence due to the immense muscle flexing by the Sangh Parivar in 2014 under the leadership of Narendra Modi, despite being the third most voted party, clearly saw the threat of the saffron camp and its implications, which, among many things, is capable of weaning away her entire Dalit votebank by using different stunts and smear campaigns.
Her fierce opposition to the Modi government started from 2016 onwards, following the institutional murder of Dalit research scholar Rohith Vemula in January. Mayawati sensed the threat to her votebank, which was vulnerable to the poaching by the upper-caste Sangh activists, who were trying to ensure that under all circumstances the Dalit community stays under the Hindutva umbrella and work for the Sangh’s agenda as its pawns.
Mayawati’s attack against the RSS and the BJP made her a bitter enemy of the saffron camp who tried to nullify her agenda by carrying out smearing campaign among the core support base of Mayawati, the oppressed Dalits.
Following the grave atrocities committed by the Sangh affiliated Gau Rakshaks in Una, Gujarat, Mayawati raked up a direct confrontation with the RSS in Uttar Pradesh and expressed her agenda to wean away a large portion of the Muslim vote bank of the incumbent Samajwadi Party and build up an alliance between the Muslims and the Dalits.
The BJP leaders, including Daya Shankar Singh, has expressed their utmost hatred for the Dalit Bahujan leader for her unapologetic character and most importantly, for her being a woman – that too a single woman. A woman defying the patriarchal order of the society and then rising to the leadership rank of a political party is something the right-wing Hindu nationalist party can never tolerate.
It’s not the case that Mamata Banerjee, a Brahmin politician, and Mayawati, a Dalit politician, are staunch opponents of the BJP and its brand of Hindutva and flag-bearers of secularism and progressive politics.
Both of them are utmost opportunist and joined hands with the saffron brigade when the situation permitted them to do so. If one turns the pages of history then they can see that soon after the Babri Masjid demolition by the Kar Sevaks of RSS, when the BJP was isolated by the parliamentary left, right, and centre, it was Mayawati, who didn’t shy to seek support to form a government in Uttar Pradesh from the very party whose agenda is to establish the Brahminical hegemony that BSP called its enemy.
It was 1995 and Mayawati withdrew support from the Samajwadi Party – Bahujan Samaj Party coalition government. Soon the Lucknow guest house episode unfurled, where the BSP and SP parted ways forever. Very soon the power-hungry BSP knocked the doors of the RSS and the BJP for support to form a government in the state, which existed for couple of months.
When the first divorce happened and the BSP and BJP parted ways in October 1995, it was perceived that these parties cannot forge any close unity in the future, however, the lust for power has no ideological barriers and Mayawati again sought the help of the BJP in 1997 and in 2002, and very soon she allowed the BJP to penetrate deep inside the Dalit colonies in return of support.
One of the other partner of BJP during the Gujarat pogrom was Mamata Banerjee, who joined hands with Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Lal Krishna Advani soon after she left the Congress Party.
In her quest for power and to wrest control of her home turf Bengal, Mamata Banerjee helped her alliance partner BJP to spread its claws throughout West Bengal and through her loyal Trinamool Congress workers, Mamata Banerjee ensured that the RSS and the VHP could sow the seeds of Hindutva even at the remotest tribal belts of West Bengal.
Mamata Banerjee used to be a die-hard Atal Bihari Vajpayee fan and often called the man a “secular leader” when the same man was responsible for inciting one of the largest pogroms in the history of Assam – the Nellie massacre of 1983. The man who called the construction of a Ram Mandir in Ayodhya a “national sentiment” in December 2000, three months after he shared a stage with Vishwa Hindu Parishad in Staten Island where he declared himself a Swayamsevak first. The man whose first reaction to the Gujarat pogrom was “who lit the fire?” followed by the usual stereotypes used by the RSS for the Muslims. For Mamata Banerjee, of course he was the non-fundamentalist leader! (Former Home Minister and CPI leader Indrajit Gupta once exposed the myth of Vajpayee being a liberal BJP leader caught in the wrong party in his Lok Sabha speech on 28th May 1996.)
Mamata Banerjee was one of the few non-BJP politicians who congratulated the mastermind of the Gujarat pogrom, Narendra Modi, when he won the 2002 assembly elections. Her floral greetings made rounds in the news paper and the parliamentary left bloc then at the helm of West Bengal also used the occasion to criticise her act to wean away her Muslim votebank.
Both Mayawati and Mamata Banerjee kept warm relations with the Congress too and joined hands overtly or covertly whenever it suited them and their political ambitions. Mamata Banerjee served as a minister in both BJP and Congress cabinets while Mayawati either received or supported both major right-wing forces that advocate complete submission to the neo-liberal economic rule.
Despite plethora of opportunism flourishing in their political lives, Mayawati and Mamata Banerjee are self-made women politicians who rose from the roubles. They were no body’s daughter, sister, wife, or mother doing ventriloquism for them. They fought their way upwards in a male dominated field and carved a niche for themselves.
It’s quite despicable that they both were subject to such sexist abuses despite their track record of being self-made political leaders. The comments made by Amit Shah has ulterior motives as the BJP is the only major player apart from Samajwadi Party in the 2017 Uttar Pradesh assembly elections that is not lead by a woman chief minister candidate.
The BJP, playing according to the male chauvinist and misogynist Sangh tunes, must uphold the sanctity of the male dominance in politics by using its Hindutva cult and macho claims of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi who boasted about a 56” chest. The male dominance, as history showed, cannot be established strongly until the men dominate women and enslave them. Amit Shah was trying to exploit the same sentiments prevalent among the men of Western Uttar Pradesh.
The feudalistic patriarch thought process that dominates Indian politics spreads the notion that a woman can only be successful in Indian mainstream politics if they are related somehow to an existing political stalwart and can become their protégée. The stereotyping of women as either political puppets of their family members or bed-partners of powerful leaders is prevalent in the Indian political scenario.
Mayawati and Mamata challenged these stereotypes that Indian women are subject to and they have successfully shattered such notions. Though they themselves capitulated to opportunism and abrupt corruption, though they patronised rapists and male chauvinists within their party, still, being self-made women politicians they have traversed a course that no women could do in India since a long time. Unlike Jayalalitha, Hema Malini, Jaya Prada, or other such politicians who were popular through their successful film careers, Mayawati and Mamata came to the forefront through their own political struggles.
The party that swears allegiance to a perceived image of “Bharat Mata” (Goddess India), doesn’t stammer while uttering lewd comments against women opponents and by only appealing to the primitive male chauvinist sentiments of the politically backward masses the Sangh activists and BJP leaders dream of winning power.
Despite several outcry against Amit Shah’s sexist remarks and official condemnation of the remarks from the TMC, both Mayawati and Mamata cannot give an appropriate response to such lewd comments made by the likes of Amit Shah, as they themselves are tightly tied in the system that is dominated by men everywhere. However, the struggling poor women of the country, especially of Uttar Pradesh, can respond to the Hindutva brigade’s sexist abuses by politically nullifying the saffron brigade to that extent where no one will be even able to see the detritus of their existence.