August 5, 2008

Low-caste Indian woman rising up through politics

Kumari Mayawati, a low-caste Indian woman and chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, led an electoral charge in late July to topple India’s government and lost only by a handful of votes.

According to The Age in Australia, Mayawati demonstrated considerable political clout in swaying votes against the Congress Party-led Parliament, and her actions resulted in the formation of a “third party” in the Indian political system.

Her ambition has led many to believe Mayawati could be India’s first “untouchable” prime minister from the Dalit caste.

Mayawati’s intentions are under scrutiny: She is chief minister of an enormous state that is home to 10 percent of the world’s poor, but her personal assets last year were valued at $12.3 million — gifts from her supporters, according to The Age.

Nonetheless, the newspaper reports that her dalit constituency loves her, and her popularity seems to be growing beyond caste lines.

–Julia Hengst/Newsdesk.org

“New Force in Indian Politics”
The Age, July 30, 2008

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