[dropcap]M[/dropcap]otormouth BJP leaders are hell bent on damaging party prospects in Uttar Pradesh. One of the lawmaker, Yogi Adityanath has applauded US President Donald Trump’s temporary ban on citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries – roundly condemned within the US and worldwide – and said similar action is needed to check terrorism in India. While campaigning for the Uttar Pradesh polls, he warned that the region could soon “become another Kashmir”. His communal speech may not really deter any Hindu voter but definitely kill the chances of those Muslim votes which could have come to BJP’s kitty. UP has been known for communal politics in the past. However in the last few elections, the scenario has changed.
In Uttar Pradesh, people ‘think’ to ‘belong’ to a particular party. The same has been the case with BSP and SP, the top two contenders. Data from the ‘Centre for the Study of Developing Societies’ shows the percentage of traditional BSP voters voting for the Mayawati’s party has declined. A part of this vote drifted towards the SP – the proportion of Jatavs voting for the SP increased in the past. Among Balmikis’ and other scheduled castes, the percentage of those voting for the Kanshiram founded party has fallen down. In 2014 Lok Sabha polls, we have seen that everyone irrespective of their caste or religion, chosen Narendra Modi, aka BJP candidates. During 2014, Narendra Modi and the Bharatiya Janata Party stood to gain from the changing caste dynamics in the state. The 16th parliamentary elections in Uttar Pradesh (UP) have brought to the fore the collapse of the traditional model of caste and communal politics in the state. However, after the two and half years of poor governance, the party has lost election in major states like Bihar and Delhi. However, only communal polarisation in the state and manipulation of castes might boost the party’s prospects here now. BJP lawmakers are trying their best in doing so. Though many see UP voters’ franchises their rights on communal lines, existing data does not support this proposition. The BJP, symbolising communal politics, rightly or wrongly, was politically marginalised after the demolition of Babri Masjid on 6 December 1992. This is clearly evident in BJP’s declining tally over the years in assembly elections (1991: 221, 1993:178, 1996:174, 2002: 88, 2007:51, 2012:47). Its vote share was halved from 31.5% in 1991 to 15.0% in 2012, 2014 they managed to bounce back in only Lok Sabha elections.
At the same time, Mayawati’s vote share among the upper castes didn’t change much, but Dalit votes declined. The vote share among Brahmins increased. But BJP or BSP were unable to win the confidence of Muslims. Whereas maximum Muslims vote for SP and this time Congress too is one of the strongest contenders. Mayawati, in the process of consolidating her upper caste vote bank, took the Dalit vote for granted and ignored the community’s interests. The hope was that because of the coming together of Brahmins and the lower castes, the unequal relationship between the two communities would get balanced. This did not happen. Earlier too, Mayawati gave too much emphasis to Brahmin leaders in her party at the cost of Dalit’s interests. The inequality continued through her term as chief minister. This time again her voters smell the same threat, she met Amit Shah for post alliance, also gave many tickets to Muslim candidates ignoring Dalits. After the occurrence of Rohit Vemula incident Dalits are not in favour of BJP. They feel discriminated and Mayawati bringing them close may go against her own interests.
The SP too was marginalised. The Akhilesh’s government has been thoroughly discredited as dysfunctional, corrupt, biased and lawless and has incurred displeasure of both Hindus and Muslims. His unpopularity with a section of Muslims became apparent when the Aligarh Muslim University teachers did not allow Mulayam Singh to address a seminar at the university and decided not to support him in the 2014 elections. But in the recent past, the politics of UP has gone in his favour, as many believe that he has done some development work in the state. The ‘infamous’ drama ‘family war’ between Akhilesh and his father Mulayam and alliance with Congress has increased his chances of victory. SP and Congress have better prospects than any other party in the state at present.
BJP received 71 parliamentarian seats out of 80 in UP due to Modi’s wave in 2014. However, they simply have done nothing when it comes to any sort of development in the state. Forget about change, none of them were ever accessible to common public after elections. None of these MP’s ever bothered about citizens and areas. They just made controversial statements and damaged Modi’s image randomly. They don’t have any relation with vikas but only religion. Now by polarising they want to come to power. BJP’s election campaign in Goa is based on development and job creation but in UP it is purely communal. PM demands a development oriented political discourse, Amit Shah indulges in double speak, lawmakers like Adityanath issue below the belt communal statements, making this encompassing political strategy to win UP elections, targeting all segments of the society, throw in caste calculus. Well! Let’s trust the voters and see whom they choose here.
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