Yadav and Women
March 9, 2010 7 Comments
Yesterday, the International Women’s Day India missed a great opportunity to take an important step forward on gender equality. The bill purporting to reserve 33% of Parliament and Assembly seats was slated to be passed in Rajya Sabha only to be scuttled by a minority opposing the bill. That the opponents of the bill would do so by citing injustice to minorities is yet another testimony to the wonder that goes by the name of parliamentary democracy in India.
It is not too difficult to realize why Lalu and Mulayam are so upset with the bill. While the former has the unenviable record of installing a kitchen cabinet in Bihar, Mulayam has been at the receiving end at the hands of Madam Mayawati.
The politics of Mulayam and Lalu are deeply entrenched in caste arithmetic.
In UP, Mulayam depends on the OBC vote bank while the Dalit vote bank is firmly behind Mayawati, though Rahul’s antics have made some dent into this. The Muslim vote bank is up for the grab by all except the BJP.
In Bihar, Lalu has the OBCs behind him though Nitish has managed to create fissures in the OBC rank to create his own niche group of MBCs within OBCs. While the Dalit vote bank is controlled by Ramvilas Paswan, the outcome of Bihar largely depends on which way the OBC vote bank swings.
The women’s reservation bill would seek to change all of this. Women have never been on the forefront of either casteism or religious prejudice. The unity among women is based on the singular plank that across castes, across religions women are marginalized. There is no system in the world which enshrines an equal opportunity to the women.
All women irrespective of caste, creed, religion, economic status have to cross the “social barrier” of being treated as “less than equal”. Despite Margaret Thatcher, Indira Gandhi and Benazir Bhutto to name a few political power has remained aspirational for the women.
The Yadavs opposition to the bill isn’t genuine. Their supposed concern for the weaker sections and Muslims is a reflection of their strategy to ensure that ‘Saap bhi mare aur latti bhi na toote’. Roughly translated, their strategy is to ensure that the snake – reservation to women – is scuttled without they being seen as Male chauvinists – the stick.
The need for political reservations for women stems from the fact that even where the party is lead by women as in the case of ADMK and BSP, they don’t get easily nominated for electoral contests. Women are perceived to be weak as political opponents certainly no women gets easily nominated in a contest of political heavyweights.
Except for Mayawati and Amma Jayalalithaa most women politicians are weak in political rhetoric – either they are yet to cut their teeth or they are too well read to indulge in political theatrics. So nominating women for electoral contests adds to the “political overheads” in terms of campaign management not to mention the possible additional expenditure to reach out to the masses.
The concept of political reservation may not bring immediate succor to the poor political representation of women. Neither would it remove all the issues that are facing Indian women including the subtle problem of glass ceiling. But it is becoming increasingly apparent that Indian policy making desperately needs to take into account the gender issues which are not adequately addressed currently.
For instance, the issues of domestic violence, health care, population control etc.. badly need a gender perspective for effective policy making. Despite having women all around him, the Indian male is still oblivious to the issues facing women. India needs more women in politics for improving the political decorum and possibly reduced levels of corruption. Indian women may not be incorruptible but I do believe that they are not shamelessly corrupt as their male counterparts.
Back on the yadavs, it is very clear that Mulayam and Lalu are paying just lip service to the cause of the weaker section and the Muslims. The real intent is to keep their political arithmetic intact. The quota within quota if anything would only pave way for more rabri like puppets being pulled out of kitchen to be installed.
Lord Krishna was believed to have been born in Yadu kul, the community of Yadavs. We all know that Krishna was the ultimate Casanova, the heartthrob of Gopikas. While the Yadav who gave us the Gita enamored the Gopis, the modern day Yadavs – Mulayam and Lalu – are content playing the fool and giving the power starved Indian women, their ubiquitous topi.