Dalits are with BJP; Mayawati saw them only as vote bank: Baby Rani Maurya

Being an ordinary BJP worker in the early 1990s, Baby Rani Maurya became the first woman mayor of Agra in 1995. Known as the Dalit face of the BJP in Uttar Pradesh, she was instrumental in strengthening the party’s reach among the Scheduled Castes. Castes in UP The 65-year-old served on the National Commission for Women from 2002 to 2005 and was the governor of Uttarakhand from 2018 to 2021. She returned to active politics before the UP assembly elections and won from Agra Rural seat. In an interview with Prerna Katiyar, Maurya, who is the new women and child development minister of the state, says that the BJP cares for the Dalits who voted for the party in large numbers. Edited excerpt:

In the recent UP elections, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra of Congress was fighting on the issue of ‘I can fight a girl’. How did you see this sloganeering as a woman?

I think there is no need for any girl to say ‘I am a girl, can fight’. Every girl is a Shakti (divine energy) in her own right. She has so much power that whatever she decides, she can achieve with her determination. Where is the need to make such a statement? I think maybe Gandhi Vadra was low on morale and that’s why he made such statements. Woman is born with many qualities. But we never say that since I am a woman my job is to fight. I have been a mayor, governor and a member of the National Commission for Women. However, it did mean that my job was just to fight.

Mayawati formed a full-fledged government in 2007. Since then his graph has come down. He was seen as the messiah of Dalits. Has he done enough for the community?

Mayawati has not lived up to the expectations of Dalits. He had high hopes for her. She hoped that as Chief Minister she would take steps to uplift her status socially and economically. But she considered Dalits only as her vote bank and used them for her personal gains. He neither built any hospital or educational institution nor opened any training center for him or the common people. As a result, Dalits were soon looking for better alternatives by standing at the do-rahe (crossroads). Soon he chose BJP which understands how Mayawati did injustice to him. We took them along and did everything possible for their betterment. Dalits are with us now and you must have seen how the community, especially the Jatavs, voted for the BJP in these elections as well.

But some people feel that BJP is anti-Dalit in its ideology.

Calling BJP anti-Dalit is absolutely wrong. Take my example. He has given me so many responsibilities. I was the mayor (of Agra) and now a cabinet minister. I am in a position to take all necessary steps for the benefit of Dalit children and women. BJP is doing this and that is why Dalits have chosen BJP over BSP. We will do everything for the upliftment of Dalits.

Do you think a separate ministry is needed for the upliftment of Dalits?

Only Dalits will be backward from this. All our schemes are also for Dalits. Will the children of Dalits not benefit from the schools built by the government? Will Dalit families not benefit from hospitals? Will they not use the same roads built by the government? By this (viewing her as a vote bank), Mayawati pushed Dalits back for many, many years. I want to see Dalits as a part of the mainstream (mainstream). Dalits should see themselves as less equal and part of Hinduism.

Talking about the representation of Dalits, they are only 8% cabinet ministers, while they are 21% of the population. Has the government done enough?

We should wait for some time before coming to any conclusion. His role will only increase with time. The cabinet has just been formed. There are many like Asim Arunji and Gulab Devi Ji in the cabinet. BJP takes every decision very carefully and keeping in mind the benefit of Dalits. Our representation may be less but the programs of their upliftment will continue without any hindrance.

What is your vision for the welfare of women and child development for the next five years?

I want to examine the issues closely before making any statement but of course I want to work towards improving the health of children. I want to improve the nutritional level of the diet given to school children. Similarly, I will ensure the empowerment of women. Nari Shakti Mission is important for Modiji. Women’s economic independence is essential. I will take action for this. they should be able to make their own

Take decisions and be a part of the economy.

You are talking about women taking their own decisions, but in many places in UP, there is no power in the hands of elected women members of local bodies. Their spouses call the shots. Would you do anything to change that?

Certainly, I want to end this practice. Whenever I visit a village I make sure that the woman who is chosen should be in the ceremony and not the “Pradhan Pati”. At times they sit reluctantly with the long veil. I tell everyone clearly that people have chosen a woman.

How do you see the transition from governor to being part of active politics?

I have always wanted to serve people. I am glad that the party has given me an active role to serve directly to the people – especially for the welfare of women and children. This is something close to my heart.

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