Having cemented her legacy in stone and marble,Mayawati has moved on to a more ambitious substance,one with special resonance in Indian politics. In her framed photographs in offices of BSP MPs in Delhi and on a new website,the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister has acquired a new epithet: Iron Lady.
Others to famously enjoy the distinction have been former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher and Indira Gandhi. More recently,L K Advani fashioned himself as a Lauh Purush on the lines of the original iron man,Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel.
The move from Behenji to Iron Lady comes at a time when Mayawati is trying to reinvent the BSP and move beyond the Hindi heartland.
Behenji is a nomenclature used by party workers due to love and respect for her. Iron Lady not only gives the message of an able administrator who has dealt with mafia strictly,but also suggests she has transcended Dalit politics and is staking national claim, BSP national general secretary Suresh Mane told The Sunday Express.
A party MP adds: Behenji UP-kendrit shabd hai (Behenji is a UP-centric nomenclature),at the most it covers Hindi land. Iron Lady has an instant national appeal. BSP MP Baliram feels even Dalits take pride that the leader of the weakest people of the society is called Lauh Mahila.
While,true to the BSPs character,not many in the party are aware of the development,the attempt to bestow her that image of strength is not new. In fact,it was her current media advisor,Jamil Akhter,who published a book back in 1999 entitled Iron Lady Kumari Mayawati. He is widely rumoured to be the brain behind the makeover,which includes the website bearing the same name www.ironladykumarimayawati.org.