Indian Untouchable Leader Emerges As Power Figure

The last week has been a rather hectic one for the people of India as its parliament has argued over and finally passed a controversial bill on nuclear energy. During the fractious conflict a new figure has emerged on the political scene, Mayawati, leader of the Dalit community and chief minister of the populous northern Uttar Pradesh state. She has become a symbol of empowerment for the oppressed Dalit group which long has been mistreated and treated like in demeaning ways. As an Indian official in Uttar Pradesh noted: “She may not have achieved much for Dalits on the ground in her past two terms as chief minister, but when she is in power, district officials, police, everyone treats Dalits with more respect.” She rose from the slums, battled discrimination due to being a woman and a
Dalit, gained an education, became a lawyer, and then assumed leadership of the Bahujan Samaj Party(BSP).

Many political analysts believe she has the capability of one day becoming a prime minister of India. Such a victory would be analogous to that of Barack Obama becoming president of the United States of America. One problem is the source of her now considerable wealth, she claims it comes from gifts of those who admire her work, but there is always the possibility in India the money comes from sources of corruption.