The bad press from her spectacularly opulent birthday celebrations, the Taj corridor controversy or even her unaccounted assets cannot still shatter Behenji's support base. And it's not because the faithful don't believe the allegations, but due to a prevailing cynicism: isn't this what everyone else does? People from her loyal constituency say she's being singled out because she is a Dalit. "Who doesn't make money?" asks Surender Singh, a taxi driver from Badalpur and a BSP sympathiser. "Why should Behenji alone suffer? What has she done that other politicians don't do? To us, it makes no difference. She is our leader and we will vote for her regardless of what the CBI or the government say."
Political experts explain this unflinching support as an expression of the Dalits' struggle to carve out a political identity for themselves. The logic of such steadfastness is that they have very few options outside the BSP. "It's true that a vast majority of Dalits support the BSP for want of options. But there is no denying the fact that the party was able to generate a new political consciousness. In that sense, the BSP's achievement is more psychological than physical. Mayawati has made Dalits confident that they now own a political space even if her rule may not have meant concrete gains for them," says Dalit activist-intellectual Chandrabhan Prasad.