The soothsayer was immediately proved right in the general election of 1996. Smarting from years of neglect and denial of power, political parties representing subaltern castes, minorities and regional aspirations melded together to form the United Front (UF) government at the Centre. Most of the social groups constituting the UF were precisely those which the Congress leadership, predominantly upper caste/middle class, had welded together into an umbrella grouping around the idea of India—a secular socialist republic aiming to provide social, economic and political equality to all.
|Mayawati’s phenomenal rise has flipped the pyramid on its head, giving the Dalits a real stake and challenging the supremacy of the Grand Old Party and the Establishment. It has also put the brakes on the BJP.|