Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati, a vocal critic of dynastic politics, has appointed her brother Anand Kumar as the party’s national vice-president and nephew Akash Anand as its national coordinator. Inevitably, she has succumbed to the lure of nepotism, which is second nature to Indian politicians. Mayawati, who has a penchant for making and breaking alliances with equal ease, had in May last year announced that no member of her family would become a BSP office-bearer. Her statement had coincided with Kumar’s ouster as the party’s number two, a post he has now regained. Kumar’s son Akash (24), who is reported to have done an MBA from the UK, campaigned actively during the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. When the Election Commission barred Mayawati from canvassing for 48 hours in April over violation of the model code of conduct, Akash had addressed a rally along with Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Akhilesh Yadav and Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) president Ajit Singh.
Mayawati has also made it clear that her party will go solo in all future elections, ringing down the curtain on an opportunistic alliance with the SP. The long-time foes had turned friends months before the LS elections, but the ‘gathbandhan’ failed to stop the BJP’s juggernaut in Uttar Pradesh. The BSP, which had drawn a blank in the 2014 parliamentary polls, bagged 10 seats this time. The SP won as many seats (five) as it did in 2014, but its vote share dropped considerably.
Mayawati is fooling no one when she claims that the BSP adhered to the ‘gathbandhan dharma’ with the SP in the interests of the country. She had her own axe to grind, with an eye on the PM’s chair, and it was the support of Muslims and Yadavs to the alliance that helped her party avoid decimation in UP. With her latest move, Behenji has lost the moral right to adopt a holier-than-thou attitude. Under her reign, the BSP seems to have consigned the noble ideals of BR Ambedkar and Kanshi Ram to oblivion. It’s self-aggrandisement and realpolitik, not Dalit empowerment, that the party swears by now.