1. What’s Mayawati’s Story?
Mayawati was born in a poor Dalit family in New Delhi in 1956. Her mother was an illiterate homemaker and her father got a job as a clerk in the postal department of the Indian government, because of a Dalit quota. While this led to a marginal improvement in her living conditions (from a village in UP to a slum in Delhi), her family’s progress was seen as selfish and hostile by their fellow villagers in Badalpaur, UP.
Education and Introduction to Politics
Mayawati went on to secure a Bachelor of Arts as well as a Bachelor of Education degree. She then studied for an undergraduate degree in law, while preparing for the national civil services.
Political activist Kanshi Ram first took notice of her when she gave a fiery speech in defence of Dalits in Delhi in 1977. He had in the works, a socio-political movement aimed at the upliftment of Dalits – one that would finally take the form of the BSP in 1984.
Seven years before the party existed, Kanshi Ram singled out Mayawati, and convinced her to join politics with him. She agreed, and under Kanshi Ram’s mentorship and close friendship, rose in the ranks. He let her unilaterally handle UP, while he focused on BSP’s national expansion. By the 1980s, she was the uncontested second-in-command of the party.
In 1993, Mayawati became the first Dalit woman to become a Chief Minister (CM). She would go on to become the CM thrice more – all of which, based on shaky alliances, ended quickly. In 2007, she finally won a clear majority and came to power – before losing to the Samajwadi Party (SP) in the UP elections of 2012.