Low-caste woman to take power in key Indian state by Kulsum Talha
"The charismatic leader was born into a 'Chamar' or leatherworkers' family — at the bottom of India's rigid caste hierarchy — on the outskirts of New Delhi.
"She first became chief minister of the sprawling state in 1995 and was India's first woman Dalit or 'untouchable' chief minister.
"Although her first term lasted less than six months, 'behenji' or 'sister' as she is respectfully called, became an instant icon for millions of India's oppressed and marginalised.
"And Mayawati has maintained her popularity despite numerous allegations of corruption — she dismissed them as an upper-caste conspiracy — and her unabashed display of wealth.
"Two years ago she described herself as a 'living goddess' and said that she had never married in order to 'to improve the lot' of Dalits.
Mayawati, as she is called, is leader of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP). Bahujan samaj means "the majority section," a reference to the oppressed majority of untouchables, other lower castes, tribals, and religious minorities including Muslims, Sikhs, and Christians. This coalition is theoretical; in practice, the party is based among untouchables, who make up an unusually high proportion of the population in the backward, populous northern state of Uttar Pradesh.
The BSP, though it occasionally pretends to some form of socialism, is a pro-capitalist, caste-based party with no significant ties to the workers' movement. Three times in the past the BSP has taken power in Uttar Pradesh in alliance with the fascistic, Hindu-right BJP (in 1995, 1997, and 2002), with Mayawati at its head all three times. This time it has won a narrow majority in its own right.
In 2002, nine months after 2,000 Muslims were massacred in Gujarat, Mayawaiti campaigned for the leader who oversaw the killings. See: Mayawati to campaign for BJP, gives Modi a clean chit in Gujarat riots (Express India, December 8, 2002):
"The Chief Minister [Mayawati], who would accompany Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee for electioneering on Monday in Gujarat, said it was her party's 'moral responsibility' to support the BJP in Gujarat as it was supporting the BSP in UP.
"Mayawati said the decision would not have any 'adverse' effect on BSP's Muslim vote bank in Uttar Pradesh.
"Rejecting the Congress charge on Modi's role in the communal violence that rocked Gujarat following Godhra massacre, Mayawati said 'a Chief Minister will never do anything which will bring bad name to his own government.'
"'The charges against Modi are baseless,' she said."
And see above:
anti-caste: GOVT UPHOLDS FIRING OF UNTOUCHABLE OVER CASTE-BASED TABOO (February 27, 2008)