Had Uttar Pradesh been a country, it would have been more populous than as many as 170 countries and if by choice it was a democracy, it would have been the fourth largest democratic nation. However, it’s equally true that with its horrific fundamental indices, this imaginative nation would have been the most terrible democracy of the world against all the whims and fancies of political analysts. The past two decades of downgraded politics have turned India’s most crucial State into a mere statistical jargon and the centre-piece of all kinds of political experiments by exploiting the sensitive and extreme social and religious ideas. In the wake of the post-Mandal Commission politics, UP was the first State to be devoid of any development plank by putting aside its mandated unbiased conventional task in governance.
At this juncture, it seems clear that the BSP is going to suffer due to the high anti-incumbency sentiments that have piled up over the years of misrule and high-level corruption. The scale of the BSP’s loss would depend on the transfer of its traditional support base of SCs and upper castes to the Congress. Unfortunately, this would be a completely reactive change, not the type of proactive power shift that happened in Bihar a few years back and brought about a turnaround in this once sinking State through remarkable reliance on governance and progressive policies. In the very beginning, development as the catalyst of the electoral agenda was toned down by all the parties, surprisingly except the BJP. The Congress has a single aim in this present UP Assembly election: to secure the number two position and share power with the SP and RLD. So, it has chosen to pursue the most visible over-secular agenda under the aegis of Digvijay Singh, who is not an angel himself by any yardstick of credibility and knows the concept of secularism only through the dangerous mode of senseless sermons or extended “reservation”!
On the other side, both the SP and BSP have nothing much to offer except announcing the ridiculously moulded promises, best suited to maintain the TRPs of obsessed TV channels rather than controlling the damage done by them in the past. By keeping itself aloof from any potential coalition with the BSP, the BJP stands low in the electoral arena but chances are strong for its good performance in eastern and central UP. However, the present political scene projects multiple polarisations where it will be impossible for any single party to secure a comfortable majority. So, both the BSP and BJP will be the victims of their own failure to be in coalition of any kind. In the near future, that may be a setback for these two political parties for not maintaining closer ties (even if nothing is impossible after the election). However, in the long run, the throne of Lucknow would be equally tough for any political party wedded to parochialism.
THIS time, its early apprehension made the SP relatively less affiliated with criminal politicians. Akhilesh Yadav, the man now in command, has displayed his shrewd attitude against the induction of criminals into the party, and this in the present political setting deserves some accolade. The BSP also has not given tickets to more than a hundred of its serving MLAs and maintained more balanced considerations in the social and religious realms in fielding candidates. Unlike these two, the Congress had opened its door for all including for those tainted politicians who were boycotted in the wake of grave charges by the two less civil parties. The self-proclaimed representative of farmers from the hinterland of western UP, the RLD, has simply maintained its opportunist stand by joining the UPA Government at the Centre for a ministerial berth, which shows the futility of its existence at large!
The BJP’s sole misadventure with tainted Baburam Kushwaha deftly tied its hand at the decisive hour to look here or there for immediate leadership management. Another big casuality was not to continue its NDA tie-up with the JD (U), which is now fighting in most of the seats that would marginally hamper the chances of the BJP in every constituency. Seeing the parliamentary election of 2014, it’s certainly neither good for the BJP nor for the JD (U) to keep such a distance from each other for no substantive reason.
Rahul Gandhi’s own political future has a close relationship with this election. After failing miserably in Bihar; this is testing time for his leadership in the field and the party as well. He is well aware of the fact that his supreme position in the Congress would be unimpaired regardless of the electoral performance on account of the longstanding culture of sycophancy for his family in the party but it will be hard to lead a government in 2014 without making significant advances in the UP election. The noise this time is very loud in the UP election. Alas, it’s not for a healthy change of power but simply for a change without having any plans for the future. The emergence of a few more petty political parties is adding to the overall confusion. In the future too, it will be hardly surprising if the State’s revenue continues to be misused for building thousands of huge elephant statues or bringing sandals in empty jet for a Dalit icon with Mayawati asserting herself as the sole champion of depressed voices. Once the leading development journalist, P. Sainath, had said that the emergence of Mayawati in UP was the triumph of Indian democracy. He was right in a way but can this be true if democracy is meant to be channelised through a single arbitrary voice? The election results of UP will help us to understand how we see our democracy, secularism, idea of social justice and, most importantly, citizenship through the eyes of politicians who only know the art of playing politics, nothing more, nothing less!
Atul Kumar Thakur
New Delhi, February14, 2012, Sunday
(Published in Mainstream, VOL L, No 8, February 11, 2012)