Mayawati is a lot of things, but she is not someone to ignore. Whether one agrees with her politics, it cannot be denied that her voice holds great influence. When Rajya Sabha deputy chairman PJ Kurien appeared to snub her voice at the current Monsoon Session of the Parliament in Rajya Sabha, she did not take to it lightly.
Yesterday evening, the Bahujan Samajwadi Party’s leader and former chief minister of Uttar Pradesh resigned as a Member of Parliament (MP). Mayawati was addressing the violence faced by Dalits in Uttar Pradesh and was asked to discontinue her speech as she had exceeded the limit of three minutes. Enraged, she insisted that her point be allowed to be made. Not being granted an extension, she staged a walkout and consequently filed a letter of resignation at Rajya Sabha secretary general Shamsher Shariff’s office, Tuesday evening.
Whether the document will hold is still contested. According to a report, in her 3-page resignation, she stated “not being allowed to speak at the RS session” as her reason for quitting as MP. As per parliamentary procedure, a parliamentarian cannot cite a motive or reason for quitting. This breaches protocol.
Although she had support from the Opposition leader in the Rajya Sabha, Ghulam Nabi Azad, she was still asked to discontinue her speech on Dalit atrocities. Azad backed her up saying that the Opposition had given prior notice to the Parliament to discuss atrocities against Dalits and minorities along with the burgeoning woes of farmer communities.
With only nine months of her tenure left in the parliament, the move might come across as her decline as a Dalit leader. If she follows through with the resignation procedures (for starters, she’ll have to file another motive for resignation and sign a proforma), she could be scoring a heavy political point. As this piece notes, her resignation might be a “well thought out gambit” aimed at strengthening the Dalit vote bank.
Staging walkouts have become commonplace in Parliamentary sessions. But leave it to Mayawati to cement Dalit support in Uttar Pradesh (where BJP is currently in power) and make a powerful political move at the same time – all of this, thoroughly impromptu.