WE can understand Kanshi Ram’s frustration at his inability to anoint his protege Mayawati as chief minister of Uttar Pradesh for a second time. Even though the Bahujan Samaj Party emerged a poor third in the recent assembly elections, the imperious leader was under the illusion that he had the United Front by the short hair, and that the secular parties—the UF and the Congress—had little choice but to accept Mayawati as chief minister. But his politics of blackmail did not quite succeed as the UF called his bluff, and the Congress too disappointed him by declining to link its support to the UF at the Centre with the installation of a Mayawati government in Uttar Pradesh.
In sheer frustration, Kanshi Ram is now flirting with the Bharatiya Janata Party, the party he had viciously attacked during the election campaign, once again with the sole purpose of installing Mayawati on the chief ministerial gaddi. But the BJP has made it clear to him that it will extract a heavy price for its support, and that it will not be satisfied with less than two-thirds representation in the Cabinet. The BSP chief realises that this would reduce Mayawati to a virtual puppet, and quite understandably is reluctant to get into such an arrangement. And it’s only natural that his desperation is mounting.
That, however, cannot condone his physical assault on mediapersons in the capital on October 25. The BSP leader, who would like to be seen as the champion of the oppressed, abused, slapped and kicked hapless mediapersons who had gone to his residence in the course of their duty. True, they had not been invited there. But if Kanshi Ram did not wish to talk with them, he could have offered the cryptic "no comment" which is the civilised norm for dealing with such situations. But then, we are perhaps wrong to expect Kanshi Ram to adhere to civilised norms, or any other norm for that matter.
It is ironical indeed that the man who never stops referring to Mulayam Singh Yadav as a goonda should himself behave in such a crass fashion. The journalists present at Kanshi Ram’s residence where the incident occurred say that the language he used to abuse the scribes, some of them women, would make a sailor blush.
One should understand, however, that Kanshi Ram's boorish behaviour was not the result of his immediate frustrations. He has belatedly begun to realise that his grand dream of winning Uttar Pradesh on his own steam and of becoming a major player in the national political arena may remain just that: a grand dream. Quite clearly, even his constituents have begun to realise that the man is, to say the least, untrustworthy and has no political ideology worth the name. His party's relatively poor performance in the last assembly elections, finishing over 30 seats behind bete noire Mulayam Singh Yadav's Samajwadi Party, is a clear indication of that. He has flirted with all major political parties in Uttar Pradesh: the Samajwadi Party, the BJP and the Congress. He has betrayed the first two, and judging by his political character, or the lack of it, will not flinch from ditching the Congress if the BJP helps him achieve power. Kanshi Ram also realises that should he align with the BJP again, he may lose forever the few supporters he still has left among the minorities.
It is said that only when things don't go right for someone, his true character surfaces. Things are obviously not quite going right for Kanshi Ram presently, and his true character has also surfaced. He has displayed fascist tendencies, and will go to any lengths to achieve what he considers to be his right. That he did not offer an explanation for his conduct a full 24 hours after the incident occurred, leave alone apologise for it, only reinforces this feeling.
One can now only hope that other political parties will realise the kind of person Kanshi Ram is and begin meting out the treatment he deserves: to render him untouchable. I am well aware that people who are as narrowminded in their approach will jump at the use of this word, and seek to apply casteist connotations to it. But I use the term in a strictly political sense, and there can be no denying the fact that by his actions, Kanshi Ram has brought no glory to the sections he claims to represent.
It is indeed a sad reflection of our times that people like him have got as far as they have done. But what can you expect when criminals have begun to rule the political roost?