Mayawati has made a strong statement today that she would convert to Buddhism if the BJP and RSS do not change their "casteist and communal mindset towards Dalits, tribals, backwards and those who had converted to other religions". However, it is not the first time she has threatened this.
What did she say?
Mayawati said this at a rally in Samajwadi Party veteran Mulayam Singh Yadav’s Lok Sabha constituency Azamgarh, where she took several jibes at Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath.
She accused Adityanath of ignoring development and instead spending time on worshipping.
“How will he look after development? He has no time to spare from worshipping in either the temples of Gorakhpur, Ayodhya, Chitrakoot. He even goes to other states to do pooja-paath. In this situation, forget the Purvachal, even the rest of the state cannot progress," she said, as quoted by Indian Express.
She further said that she is openly challenging BJP and RSS that if they do not change their casteist and communal thinking of hatred against Dalits, tribals, backwards, converted people and their leaders, she will leave Hindu religion and embrace Buddhism with crores of people.
Citing the example of BR Ambedkar, she said, “Ambedkar had given 21 years to Shankaracharyas and thekedars of Hinduism to make changes, but when it did not happen, he left the religion and embraced Buddhism in Nagpur on October 14, 1956."
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Not the first time
Notably, Mayawati's family in Badalpur village of Gautam Budh Nagar has already been following the Buddhist ideology.
As early as 2006, Mayawati had said that she and her followers will embrace Buddhism when her party Bahujan Samaj Party gains an absolute majority at the Centre and she becomes the prime minister. Speaking after the last rites of party founder Kanshi Ram that were conducted according to Buddhist tradtions in 2006, she had told reporters, "It is not about me becoming a Buddhist. I could do it today but it would be just me. We have to spread the faith for which absolute majority at the Centre is a pre-requisite."
She is known for her closeness to Bhikkhus (Buddhist monks).
In 2016, during the run-up to Uttar Pradesh assembly elections (where she got badly defeated), however, The Times of India had reported an unnamed party leader saying Mayawati will not take to Buddhism till her party comes to power at the Centre.
As this analysis pointed out, this wasn't surprising considering her conversion would affect her non-Dalit vote bank because the Buddhist vows demand the person to declare no belief in Hinduism or any of the Hindu gods.
For Mayawati, her non-Dalit vote bank is precious too as in 2007, she could win 206 of the total 403 seats only because of the additional support by caste Hindus, particularly Brahmins, as per the above analysis.