The Pink Elephant Cometh

22 Jul

She makes it all so easy doesn’t she? The Boys Don’t Cry haircut, the Hello Kitty love of pink, the attraction for shiny things like that throne, her instant trump card of caste with which she conveniently bats aside every single criticism… how can you not giggle a bit when you see the above?

Of course, the other side of the coin is that you want to tear your hair out because she’s pretty much a standard bearer for everything that’s wrong with Indian politics today.

But I’ve come to realize something – my biggest problem with her is that she doesn’t live up to my ideas of what she should be like.

Female Dalit leader, a savvy political operator, chief minister of India’s largest state, with a good chance to be Prime Minister. Thirty, twenty, even ten years ago, this would have been a pipe dream. If you had told someone in the 1970s about someone like Mayawati, they would have thought you insane.

Given this, I really want her to be awesome. I want to look at the pink suits and the statues and the rest of it – and not give a damn because her actions make them all immaterial eccentricities.

Unfortunately, reality will not cooperate. In the real world, the pink elephant is stomping all over my cherished fantasies. Which is really my problem, not hers because she didn’t ask for me to project my desires on to her. And frankly it makes me feel a little uncomfortable to think this way because it feels patronizing.

Although, at this point, I’d be deliriously happy to see anybody at all who actually puts country first and does the job they were elected to perform. A girl can have her dreams, right?


Posted by on July 22, 2008 in Newsmakers, Personal, Politics


13 responses to “The Pink Elephant Cometh

  1. Ramsu

    July 22, 2008 at 3:17 pm

    I’m trying to imagine her in a Rajni movie. Not as some random character, but as a replacement for Rajni. Frankly, I don’t care much for her politics anyway, so I’d rather she did this than run the country or any part thereof.

    Hey, you have your dreams, I have mine.


  2. M

    July 22, 2008 at 7:18 pm


    I understand where you’re coming from, but my huge problem with her is her overt corruption – which all politicians in India, and particularly politicians from poorer backgrounds, seem to exhibit. can understand the mentality that wants a piece of the pie – but that means I don’t give her a pass on her policies…


  3. Pitu

    July 22, 2008 at 10:29 pm

    ‘anybody at all who actually puts country first and does the job they were elected to perform’

    Kya Amrita? You HAVE been to Pitustan, have you not?? Now I am all khafaa at you :-p

    P.S. nothing as pedestrian as an election happens in Pitustan. I am to the mahal born.

  4. memsaab

    July 23, 2008 at 11:24 am

    I’ll trade you! At least she’s interesting and doesn’t have the look and feel of a chimpanzee. Sorry, chimps.


  5. Amrita

    July 23, 2008 at 1:30 pm

    Ramsu and M – oh HELL no! I don’t follow her politics! well, it would be nice if she actually believed all that “poverty sees no caste” stuff but I doubt it. I just wish the actual person lived up to the tags she’s given, is all.
    And Ramsu, if Rajni refuses to hand his empire over, she’d immediately accuse him of discriminating against her because she’s a dalit woman. 😀

    Pitu Sultaan!!! How could I have forgotten the glorious nation? A thousand lashes of the whip! And an election would be an effrontery! Mon dieu.

    Memsaab – LOLz, I hadn;t thought of that. Oh, what will we all do when he leaves in another five months? Damn, five months!! How time has dragged.

  6. Chevalier

    July 23, 2008 at 5:59 pm

    Amrita – hats off to you, you’ve articulated my vague guilt about Mayawati so precisely!

    I know there’s this huge situation in the US where Hillary Clinton was castigated in the Democratic primaries (pretty ruthlessly) for being an ugly, unsexy woman with thick ankles and what not, and I loved her for seeming immune to it all and just going on with her illogical politics.

    I couldn’t ever get myself to feel the same pride, the same awe, the same ‘you go, girl’ empathy for Mayawati, even though Mayawati is all that Hillary is, and more: she’s a woman in politics, but she’s also lower caste AND lower socio-economic class, one who’s got there all by herself, etc etc. I take one look at her (Mayawati) and dismiss her….and I cannot say why I do that! And of course, I feel terribly guilty for my reaction.

    I tell myself I would like her if she was like Chidambaram/Manmohan Singh – educated, articulate, ‘people like me’, who can crystallize complex thoughts into eloquent soundbytes. But that’s really superficial of me. I repeat to myself I would be okay with her if she was like Chandrababu Naidu, who can’t speak or dress himself to be impressive if his life depended on it, but who impressed the s*** out of everyone with his unbelievable vision, energy, and willingness to be productive. I reassure myself I’d be grudgingly impressed by her if she was like Laloo – populist, crude, but incredibly efficient at running a campaign, a state, or the Indian Railways – so good that he’s actually made them profitable.

    But then, Mayawati should not need to be all that: I’m holding her to very high standards of Indian politicians, and as a self-proclaimed feminist I should support her for being a politician just as any other, just as manipulative, corrupt, deceitful, and ugly.

    My problem is, I can’t be happy for her.

  7. bollyviewer

    July 24, 2008 at 2:04 am

    A girl can certainly have her dreams – but to think (even in dreams) that a leader exists “who actually puts country first and does the job they were elected to perform” is seriously delusional! Anyhoo… everytime I am hit by anti-Mayawati feelings I tell myself that our daily news would be so flat without the likes of her and Lalloo Prasad.

  8. Sudeep

    July 24, 2008 at 2:30 am

    I think she tapkaoed KRam.. hmmm

  9. Anonymous

    July 24, 2008 at 8:46 pm

    “The Boys Don’t Cry haircut” – I thought her hair was tied back.

  10. bombaydosti

    July 26, 2008 at 6:47 am


    I loved this one. You have written in this post, something that I could not identify within me as to what I was actually feeling about her. I was indeed trying to impose upon her my desires about how I wanted a female politician to be like.
    I may even not give her the rope that I give the others !

    Good one Amrita!

  11. Amrita

    July 26, 2008 at 2:17 pm

    Chevalier and BD – I was reading this book written in the 70s that was apparently the “definitive guide to India” for more than a decade and in it the author makes the point that while it was huge for indira Gandhi to become PM, it was too early to say things had changed for india unless you could see a Dalit woman, the lowest of the oppressed, make strides in the same direction as the infinitely connected, Brahmin, western educated Mrs. Gandhi. And that author didn’t think India would manage to do it in his lifetime.
    So when I see Mayawati being written up on sites like Jezebel and the NYT there’s a part of me that’s really happy to read what they’ve written but then I compare it to what I know on the ground and the distance between image and reality is so disheartening.
    It was basically this long winding thought that kind of ended up in this 🙂 Glad to know I’m not the only one feeling the dissonance.

    Bollyviewer – you’re so mean 😀 ah yes, I remember that tactic. at one time Devi lal was the Laloo of the day and he was grazing his cows on the lawn of his Lutyens bungalow and I remember laughing at it.

    Sudeep – shhhh, not so loud or you’ll probably be next 😀 That relationship was seriously creepy though.

    Anonymous – nope, no ties for her. Her hair’s a bit longer now so you can see it more clearly. It’s very middle class north indian behenji hairstyle actually.

  12. BVN

    August 8, 2008 at 10:25 am

    Amrita, I think the lack of media coverage for the lady before 2007 is one reason we don’t understand where she comes from. I recently read Ajoy Bose’s book Behenji – if you havent I wud recomm that one, its a page turner (2 hr read).

    Mayawati and the BSP are both different. from what the book says, she doesn’t see beyond the next elections – though its true for all the parties, Behenji doesnt even pretend she does. She can be called corrupt or a Transfer Rani, but when you look at what happens in the Thakur wild wests of UP hinterland, you’ll be confused.

    She is chaotic like “I am not a schemer. I show schemers how pathetic their attempts to control things really are. Introduce a little anarchy, you upset the established order, and everything becomes chaos. I am an agent of chaos. And you know the thing about chaos, Harvey? It’s fair.” 🙂

  13. Amrita

    August 8, 2008 at 2:28 pm

    Thanks for recco, BVN, I hadn’t heard of it before. LOL, she’s the Joker?! So Amar Singh must be Two Face and AB Harvey Dent – no wonder the two go everywhere together.

    Damn, it all makes so much sense now! 😀

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