By Nirendra Dev
Caste considerations have been a fact of political life in Uttar Pradesh, but it has been blatant in recent decades with patronage from parties such as Samajwadi, BSP, and Congress. All political parties have been shown their places electorally and repeatedly, but none seems to have learned the lessons.
The Akhilesh Yadav-led Samajwadi Party is back with the same game and is trying to win over disgruntled leaders from a few caste groups. Swami Prasad Maurya and Dharam Singh Saini are two such leaders. The media spin is on the expected line as if the sky has fallen and something extraordinary has happened.
Five years back, such hype was generated when Akhilesh decided to ally with Rahul Gandhi’s Congress. In the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, Akhilesh tried yet another experiment and allied with the BSP of former Chief Minister Mayawati. In both instances, Akhilesh’s game plans failed, if not boomeranged, and the electorate showed confidence in Narendra Modi and the BJP.
In the 2019 parliamentary polls, the BJP and its ally Apna Dal (S) won 64 of the 80 Lok Sabha seats, proving all arithmetic of the SP-BSP ‘Mahagatbandhan’ in Uttar Pradesh wrong. SP and BSP won just 15. In 2017 assembly polls, Congress won seven, while SP could win 47. The BSP could win 19, the saffron party’s tally was 312, and the vote share was 39.67 percent.
Having said these, one thing is clear, Modi, BJP, and later Yogi Adityanath have brought inclusive development (Sabka Vikas) and uplift of hitherto neglected segments at the center stage of UP’s electoral politics.
The BJP on Saturday announced Adityanath as its candidate from Gorakhpur Urban. The message being the saffron party continues to take eastern Uttar Pradesh much seriously, and for it, what matters more is the politics of inclusive development.
“Fielding Yogi from Ayodhya would have given a boost to BJP’s campaign in Awadh region, but unnecessary media hype would be there about the Hindutva card or so. The message from BJP is clear that Adityanath does not need a particular seat to prove his Hindutva leanings. And that he is the Chief Minister of the entire state and all communities,” said a former Union Minister and in the know of things in BJP’s strategy making.
The Modi-Yogi duo double engine has only strengthened the faith of voters and the resolve of BJP workers and sympathizers in the development and protection of Hindu rights.
The so-called secular forces have been busy appeasing Muslims and repeatedly hurling abuses on Hindus and Hindu culture. It is during the elections they remember to visit temples. But the people have treated them electorally as they deserved. Congress lost touch with UP practically in 1989 itself, and others did it later.
There is another twist in the tale. The so-called “secular” forces are already experiencing the impact of AIMIM. Asaduddin Owaisi has demonstrated he can harm secular parties in states like Maharashtra and Bihar. In Uttar Pradesh, AIMIM impact could be more severe as the Hyderabad-based party initially proposed Uttar Pradesh as its major target area of political expansion.
The road to power in New Delhi is most often via Uttar Pradesh. Owaisi is a threat to self-styled and self-seeking secular forces as he is in great demand in hubs and pockets of UP where Muslims see him as a new messiah.
(The writer is a noted author. The views expressed are personal.)