Bollywood songs, witty slogans, dull speeches: 360 degree view of Mayawati rally

Shadab Nazmi
Shadab NazmiFeb 10, 2017 | 20:21

Bollywood songs, witty slogans, dull speeches: 360 degree view of Mayawati rally

"Balli number 5, balli number 5?"

Constables in white uniform quickly check their allotted numbers. "Balli number 5, why are you spaced out?" - a voice comes from the stage where the Bahujan Samaj Party supremo Mayawati is scheduled to address the crowd in Budaun. A middle-aged man in baggy pants and sporting a big moustache, also in white uniform, quickly jumps and raises his hand - "Sir, yes sir" - and in my mindé eye, all of a sudden, the iconic scenes from the film Full Metal Jacket just play themselves out.


"Aise hi soye rahoge toh khaak crowd control karoge? (If you keep losing your attention like this, how would you even control the crowd)" - the man on the stage, one of BSP party members who's in charge of crowd control as well - they all seem to be - screams his lungs out. Apparently, these men in white uniform, ranging from really young to quite old, are from BSP's rallies' crowd control team and are deployed with different numbers for different areas on the rally ground.

1 hour to go

"Kya lagta hai bhar jaayega? (What do you think, is it going to be a packed house)" - I ask Jeetu, a middle-aged man who is setting up white chairs for vidhayaks (party members) and red chairs for the local public. "Khade hone ki jagah nahi rahegi (You won't even find space to stand)", he smirks in confidence.  I take out my tripod, camera and set it up in front of the press stall. While I am eagerly waiting for the crowd to come, the loudspeakers just explod with a song, a very familiar song - "Mehndi laga ke rakhna, doli saja ke rakhna" from the film Dilwale Dulahaniya Le Jayenge.


The song starts with the long alaap of Lata Mangeshkar but suddenly switches to a male voice with markedly different lyrics. "Mehndi" is replaced with Haathi hai mere yaara. And then, the usual fare of multiple Bollywood songs continues, with the title song from Haathi Mere Saathi on loop most of the time. Yes, of course with pro-party lyrics.

45 minutes to go

"We will do rehearsals before our beloved Behenji comes on the stage", says another party member from the dais. "We will chant slogans - one by one till the time she comes on the stage. After that no one will utter a word," he adds. The crowd has already started trickling in. Men, women and children quietly walk in and  find spots to sit.

"Chalega haathi udega dhool, Na rahega cycle, na rahega phool " - women in red, blue, green and orange sarees are louder than most men and repeat when party members rehearse these lines from the stage. The anticipation of seeing Behenji Mayawati starts to appear on their faces. It won't be long now.

But the impatient crowd keeps looking up at the sky. "Helicopter wahan se aayega. Nahi, wahan se aayega (Her chopper will come from there, no, it would come from the other direction)" - an old lady in the front stall keeps convincing those gathered. "Tum sab ko kya pata, woh gaadi mai aayengi, iske baad Shahjahanpur jana hai, thode hi helicopter ka tel udayegi paas jane mai? (You all know nothing, she will come here in her car. She has to go to Shahjahanpur after this rally, she won't just burn her chopper's fuel to go nearby)" - another woman interrupts when she sees people staring hungrily at the sky.


15 minutes to go

"Aa gayi, aa gayi (She has arrived, she has arrived)"- another woman screams.

Everyone stands up, trying to get a glimpse of her helicopter. TV cameramen tilt their equipment towards the sky, reporters fix their coats and tuck their pot bellies inside. "It's a hoax, it's a hoax" - comes an announcement from the stage. "I just had a word with Behenji, she is still in the sky, please maintain discipline and wait till she comes", the chief organiser of the rally adds.

"Upar tower kahan aata hai? Jhoot bol raha hai ye (There is no cell phone network up there. He is lying)", a man with Mayawati's facemask, standing close to the press stall speaks in despair.

As the colourful wait nears its end, former MLAs of BSP take their turns one by one and address the crowd. Interestingly, all of them attack BJP and Modi more than they take on Samajwadi Party and Akhilesh Yadav. "The man is a liar. He (Modi) promised us to give all of us Rs 15 lakh each and what did we get? Nothing." So says Bhupendra Singh, one of the party members and the nominee from Budaun constitency.

Zeroing in

"Aa gayi aa gayi (She has arrived, she has arrived)", chants fill the air.

This time the crowd goes really crazy as they see Mayawati's helicopter making a way to land on the ground. The speaker is cut-off midway and all the party members suddenly come together on the stage to chant  BSP slogans.

"Chalo Chalo Sarkar Banay, Haathi Ka Batan Dabay (Come together to form BSP's government, vote for elephant on election day)", the crowd roars. From the storm of dust that her chopper has kicked up, emerges the iron lady of Uttar Pradesh. Dressed in grey kurta and pajama, Maywati makes her way to the stage. The slogans continue. She waves her hands while everyone stands up and clap till she sits down on the white couch set on the stage.


And then she takes the mic.

The excitement suddenly gets crushed, almost immediately, as they finally hear Mayawati speak to them. Low on energy, almost lacking confidence and zing so typical of other leaders fighting for the soul of UP. She doesn't even talk for long (they were promised that Mayawati would speak to them for at least an hour).

She begins her speech with the Una incident in Gujarat and Rohit Vemula. "If you want more of incidents like that in Una where people are beaten up on the false charges of skinning cows or killings of many like Rohit Vemula, then vote for BJP or Samajwadi Party. If you let BSP form its government in UP, I will eradicate mafia and hooligans from here", she says.

The excitement of people suddenly got crushed when they finally heard Mayawati speak to them. [Photo: DailyO]

And yes, it is extremely unenthusiastic, almost mechanical in delivery on most parts. Often it seems she is just reading it all out from paper. She also mentions how she wouldn't provide laptops or cycles to people like the way SP does because she believes in helping people financially so they can themselves decide what they want to spend their money on.

"BJP will snatch away the minority status of Jamia Millia Islamia University in Delhi and Aligarh Muslim University in Aligarh, if they come in power, choose your government carefully," she cautions.

The speech stays more or less the same in her subsequent rallies as well. She keeps raising the familiar bogeys: waiving off farmers' debts, reopening the cases of innocents who have been falsely charged and are currently serving sentences in jails; and how she wouldn't spend any more money on building structures and memorials if she comes in power. In all her rallies, she speaks briefly and it almost feels that she doesn't mean much, lacks the commitment. It seems like she isn't just interested anymore in becoming UP's chief minister for the fifth time.

But if you were to ask me how Mayawati's rallies are different from other parties, let me tell you this. There are three things that sums up Mayawati's rallies in the state right now: very well-organised events with witty slogans, Bollywood songs and hyper-active party members.

Last updated: February 10, 2017 | 20:21
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