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Asian Tribune is published by E-LANKA MEDIA(PVT)Ltd. Vol. 20 No. 104

Unorthodox view of up verdict

By Syed Ali Mujtaba - Syndicate Features

While doing the post-mortem of the Bahujan Samaj party’s victory in Uttar Pradesh, many writers have analyzed the electoral verdict in terms of the subaltern movement in the state. There is no denying the fact that a great deal of Dalit resurgence is taking place at the grass root level in India's heartland, but there is little evidence to suggest that the victory of this pro- low caste party owes to any revolutionary trend in the making.

The victory of Bahujan Samaj party was more due to default rather than any calculated design in what was essentially a triangular contest. But the high profile Samajwadi Party and the BJP had lost the electoral sweepstakes even before the electioneering had begun. Congress, which has been relegated to a distant fourth place, was not there in the fray in any big way.

So there was nothing startling about the UP electoral results. Every thing has been on expected lines as the script that written well before the elections. Those trying to read too much into this result are basically those who are fond of blowing the trumpet when the procession has hit the road.

As far as the BJP is concerned, they had lost the election, the moment they distributed the controversial CD. Its poll managers thought that through the CD they would be able to polarise the society and recreate the 1990 magic to win the election hands down. The Muslims did not react; they kept their cool and carried out that tactical voting. In that sense the BJP strategy failed miserably. What is more, the CD nukkad dissuaded many people who might have initially thought of voting for the BJP.

Even the “caste arithmeticians” of the BJP could not save their ‘kamal’ from fading in the heat. The party remained a silent spectator to the break up of Brahim-Banya alliance in spite having stalwart upper caste leaders like Atal Behari Vajpayee, Murali Manohar Joshi, Rajnath Singh, all from the state, in its ranks. The patch up with Kalyan Singh, the OBC leader and the strategy of projecting him as the chief ministerial candidate did not work. May be because he was seen sulking still. Inevitably, therefore, the former Chief Minister could not to ‘steal’ a single vote from the SP or BSP kitty. On the contrary he presided over the loss of both upper caste and lower caste votes to the saffron party.

The BJP owes its ascendance in Indian politics to the Uttar Pradesh. It had a dream run from 1986 to 1992 when it generated a mass hysteria promising the electorate Ram Raj by constructing a Ram Temple at Ayodhya where once stood the Babari Masjid. The campaign was high pitched. “Saugandh Ram ki khate hain, Mandir Wahin Banayenge (I vow in the name of Ram to construct the Mandir at the same spot where the Babari Masjid stands)” impressed the religiously minded and the gullible. The "Chalaks" (intelligent) who could sense the pulse of the time joined BJP ranks because for them it was; "Ram naam ki loot machi hai, loot sako to looto" (there is a loot going on in the same ram, if you can loot, can loot).

In 1989 the BJP had 89 seats in the UP assembly. Thanks to the temple campaign, its tally shot up to more than 200 seats in 1992. However, after the destruction of the Babari Masjid (December 6, 1992) BJP fortunes have started tumbling down. It was a free fall but for its alliance politics. Now in the new UP assembly, the party holds just 50 seats.

Who is rejoicing? Well, it is none other than the ‘sexy’ sanyasin, Uma Bharti, who was forced to withdraw her candidates almost in the last moment to ‘save’ the BJP. And she is taunting the VHP leaders who made her do the ‘sacrifice’. For her, some BJP leaders are "Sata ke dalal". This is an ‘updated’ version of Mayawati’s old taunt - BJP ke Teen Dalal; Tilak, Tarazu aur Talwar.

For the Samajwadi party, the poll reverse was a self-inflicted wound. The UP voters have proved by rejecting SP that they care for none who don’t care for them. Perform or perish. SP did not perform except on the small screen. Naturally, Amitabh Bacchan’s baritone –Upmehai Dam ended up as the joke of the year, like Advani-Mahajan combine’s ‘India Shining’ campaign.

The Congress had lost UP to ‘Kamandal vs. Mandal politics quite a while ago. These days voters just do not vote for the ‘name’ sake, they do their own cost-benefit before entering the polling booth. So, road shows by the Gandhi Parivar are no substitute for hard political work at the gross root level over a long period. The question is when the Grand Old Party (GOP) will read clearly the writing on EVMs.

Viewed against these harsh ground realities, it becomes clear that the voters opted for BSP held out hope for them. What is more the BSP has given up its stridency against upper castes and thus widened its base and appeal as a champion of every one, not Bahujan alone. Before such strategy, a thoroughly discredited Samajwadi and directionless BJP could not stand up and be counted.

The people of Uttar Pradesh must be complimented for giving a decisive mandate to a political party. Their collective wisdom made ‘opinion poll-walas’ shun limelight and saved the state from horse trading to put in place an opportunistic post-poll alliance.

Upites have four core demands -sarak, paani, bijli aur naukri (road, water, electricity and job). Neither the Ram Raj nor Moolayam Raj gave them these. Will Maya Raj deliver them? The electorate hopes she will. Behenji is on the notice from day one. And that is, for one certain. Whether she likes it or not or whether she realises or not!

- Syndicate Features -

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