Bahujan Samaj Party’s chief Mayawati enters Forbes‘ list of most powerful women in the world. She ranks 59th most powerful women and joins Sonia Gandhi, who is ranked 21st in the list. Mayawati shares this limelight with other powerful women from India including Indira Nooyi, the Indian-origin chief of Global Soft Drink Major Pepsico currently at 3rd position and Indian Biotechnological firm Chief Kiran Mazumdar, who holds 99th position.
Mayawati came into power in 1995, when at 39, she was the youngest politician elected to the post and was also the first Dalit to head the state government. The report further says that she commands a large following and goes simply by her name “Mayawati”. Over a period of time, she has formed alliance with many parties and has maintained her prominence in the Indian Politics.
The list has been topped by German chancellor Angela Merkel. On Gandhi, the magazine said the Italian-born leader of India’s most powerful political party has by now assumed the role of elder stateswoman. “Although she remains firmly at the head of the country’s ruling party, a rising star, known by the single name Mayawati, is challenging Gandhi’s position as the country’s most powerful woman.” The magazine said that Mayawati has aligned herself with the nationalist Hindu BJP party and joined its members in vociferously opposing Gandhi’s party’s historic agreement with the US on nuclear cooperation.
The magazine described Mayawati as the one “in the running to be prime minister, from her perch as chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state.”
Kumari Mayawati was born in Delhi. Her father Prabhu Das was a clerk in the telecommunications department in Delhi. Her mother is Ram Rati. She graduated from Kalindi College in Delhi and holds a Bachelor of Law degree. She also holds a Bachelor of Education degree and was a teacher in Delhi (Inderpuri JJ Colony) until joining full time politics in 1984. At one point she also studied for the Indian Administrative Service examinations. However, after meeting Kanshi Ram, she gradually came under his patronage, and was part of his core team when he founded the BSP in 1984.
Contrary to some poll predictions, BSP won a majority, the first such majority since 1991. Mayawati managed to attract support from Brahmins, Thakurs, Muslims and OBCs voted for the first time for a Dalit party, partly because BSP had offered seats to people from these communities. As usual, this was accompanied by a colourful slogan: Haathi nahin, Ganesh hain, Brahma, Vishnu Mahesh Hain: The elephant (BSP Logo) is really the wise Ganesh, the trinity of gods rolled into one.
Mayawati as Chief Minister, 2007
Kumari Mayawati was sworn in as Chief Minister of UP for the fourth time on 13 May 2007. Her announced agenda is focused on social justice through laws and other means for weaker sections, providing employment instead of distributing money to unemployed; her slogan is to make Uttar Pradesh into an Uttam (excellent) Pradesh.
Her first action was to suspend two IAS officers for non-performance to maintain the Ambedkar park in Lucknow: B.B. Singh, Vice-President (LDA), and S.K. Aggarwal (PWD Principal Sec.) and also one other lower rank officer. It is widely believed that these officers were close to the outgoing government of Mulayam Singh Yadav. She has transferred around 100 police officers.
She is continuing the Process of corruption clear out in UP Police Department. It is a major Crack Down on corrupted policemen and officers recruited during the previous Mulayam Singh Regime. So far 17,868 policemen has lost their jobs for irregularities in the recruitment process and 25 IPS officers were suspended for involving in corruption while recruiting the police constables.
She has also opened case files relating to land deals of the leading actor Amitabh Bachchan in Barabanki, who was close to the previous Samajwadi Party regime.
Since attracting the votes of upper castes, she now talks about a policy for poverty-based reservations rather than caste-based reservations.