Mayawati evokes extreme reactions in people – be it for her obsession to build statues and memorials of Dalit icons, her authoritarian way of functioning or for being the symbol of empowerment of the downtrodden.
Mayawati, who was named by BSP president Kanshi Ram in 2001 as his successor, has indeed come a long way. She has often said that she has no time for anybody, not even her family, but only for politics. Probably this attitude of hers made her the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh four times. Her control over the party is complete - her supporters celebrate her birthday, January 15, as Jan Kalyankari Diwas (People`s Welfare Day).
Her rise in politics has been phenomenal considering her humble background, not to forget that she has assets worth Rs 87 crore (as per data released by an NGO).
But, undoubtedly, she is unlike most politicians in the country. In words of former PM Narasimha Rao, Mayawati is a ‘miracle of democracy’.
She holds a Bachelors of Arts from Kalindi Women`s College and LLB from Campus Law Centre, Delhi University. She also completed BEd from VMLG College, Ghaziabad and has worked as a teacher in Delhi.
Mayawati was an IAS aspirant. It is said that when she was preparing for the civil services exams in 1977, Mayawati first met her mentor and Dalit leader, Kanshi Ram. Often referred to as Behenji, Mayawati was part of Kanshi Ram`s team when he founded the Bahujan Samaj Party in 1984. In 1989, she was elected to the Parliament from Bijnor.
In 1993, Mayawati formed a coalition with the Samajwadi Party and at the age of 39 years became the youngest CM of UP and the first Dalit woman CM of India. Then in 1997 and in 2002, she again became the CM after her party formed a coalition with the Bharatiya Janata Party.
In 2007, Mayawati managed to secure a majority on her own. Her stunning success was attributed to clever management of the caste divided polity in the state. In a masterstroke, she sewed together a combination of Brahmins, Thakurs, Muslims and members of other backward classes along with her loyal Dalit voter base, which paid her rich dividends.
PS: Kanshi Ram while initiating Mayawati – who wanted to be an IAS officer - into politics had promised to make her such a big leader that one day not one, but a whole row of IAS officers would line up for her orders….his prophecy did come true.