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Traces of a political discord in Uttar Pradesh

Friday, June 07, 2019
By Ranajoy Sen

Politics in Uttar Pradesh is displaying traces of a measure of yeastiness. It is so because of the sprawling extent of that particular state within the country, as also of an acute attribute of a churn in its socio-political sphere, visible more in intensity during the past two decades than otherwise. After the electoral drubbing that the combine known as the Gathbandhan (major alliance) or something akin to it, received at the hands of the BJP-led alliance in the just concluded parliamentary election, it is bound to have brought about a sense of quietude in the state – at least for some time. But, such is the nature of some evolved political forces in that state that the quiet is almost bound to be buffeted by dissensions of sorts.

Uttar Pradesh has a particular relevance in the Indian political dynamic. The reason, as mentioned earlier, has to do with its geographic spread and demographic nature of the state, by virtue of which it sends 80 of the 543 MPs to the Indian Parliament. Therefore, in good part for this reason, any political party would want to accord it notable attention, politically, among several other states. So it has been with the Congress, the regional parties of the state, and for the BJP. Just like the Congress of the yester years, the BJP has managed to position itself in the pole position in the state, as it has across a major portion of the country.  UP - oriented regional parties, known as the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party, among others, have also had their share of political power in the state – and continue to be a force to reckon with in the state, albeit in an apparently diminished position, at present.

Dominance of the BJP
Immediately after the conclusion of the 2019 general election, and the outcome of it, where the BJP-led NDA accrued a sensational victory, it looked as if the major alliance of the SP, BSP and the other parties could crack. From a recent development, it seems that it is truly so. While trying to sift out the reasons for their crushing defeat in the state of Uttar Pradesh, the SP and BSP appear to have developed some extent of mutual discord. Although the two parties fought together, what turned out to be a lost electoral battle, against the BJP, they have now spoken of a possibility of parting company, at least, in the coming future.

The BSP chief Mayawati has stated that it intended to contest the coming about 11 seats for the assembly by-polls in the state by itself. It does not wish to ally with the SP and other alliance constituents, at least for this poll. As if on cue, the SP chief, Akhilesh Yadav has also indicated that in that case, it would have no option but to follow the inevitable: signal a break with the BSP and contest the by-polls on its own. What does this augur? Is it a belated, indirect, yet a sure indication that the anti-BJP alliance partners do not have much to offer the electorate, and they see no point in allying together through this alliance; at least for now. This is bound to put the BJP in yet more advantage. It could skillfully and yet surely take its message to the people that the seemingly incoherent mélange that the opposition alliance had offered the people, could be potentially bearing out the truth.

Caste-based identity appears to have been the benchmark of the SP and the BSP. Although there is definitely a social angle to the message that these political parties have wanted to send, it is beyond doubt that heir approach to politics seems more and more as a defeatist approach. As far as amelioration of the people through the socio-economic ladder is concerned and jettisoning discrimination on the basic of caste or class is considered, they are bound to make a mark with impoverished and down-trodden section of the populace. But, to glorify caste-based identity and encourage the continued stigma of so called backward caste as a means to come forward, is bound to be a futile exercise. In good part, it has been so.

Constructive work has its merits
The two concerned parties, namely the SP and BSP, during their respective stints in power, have not been able to contribute much in the form of economic amelioration across the board in Uttar Pradesh, and have been accused of encouraging lawlessness and marginalizing security. To the extent that they have been successful in doing so, it has been so only when they have concentrated on constructive economic development or built some groundwork for it. In particular, that was the case with former Chief Minister of UP, Akhilesh Yadav, especially during his final two years or so of being in power, when he began to emphasize more on merit and constructive work than otherwise. Harping on backwardness and playing an undesirable caste-based politics, while continuing to utter to the contrary, does not yield any dividends in any way.

Today, the BJP has proved once again that whatever may be its shortcomings, emphasizing on good governance, security, economic uplift, and downgrading the unmerited divisions of caste and class, is bound to resonate more with the electorate than otherwise. This is so despite utterances to the contrary by its political opponents.

Therefore, the seeming rift among the SP and BSP in Uttar Pradesh is once again a reminder that performance, feel-good factor and espousing of correct priorities would, should and are bound to carry more traction than a narrative based on negative aspects, cynicism and questionable perspectives.

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