Everything needs a reason, and a season to blossom. And the time has now come for UP. The land of politics has started showing its true political colors this winter season, although with a few caveats. The elephant is roaring like a lion, the cycle is marching like a motorbike, and the hand (or the palm) is up high in the air. But there is no sign of the lotus, our very own national flower. It seems that the lotus has taken the saying about it too seriously — kamal keechad mein hi khilta hai (the lotus blossoms only in the mud).
It’s the time of the year when every political party suddenly realises that there is something called “public” also in their dictionary. And the public, for them, is found in huge numbers and more easily in the remote areas; where otherwise no one seems to reach because of the lack of infrastructure. They forget that the same public made them what they are, and the lack of everything is because they go there only once in five years. They also wake up to the thought of their love and care for the backward castes — even more for the Dalits and minorities. It happens all of a sudden in a matter of few days and our able leaders assume that the public would not see through all this.
This, to some extent, is true also. But then, since everyone does that, you cannot really discriminate.
All the parties seem to be trying very hard — they are running from pillar to post, not leaving any corner untouched. Mayawati took the charge and kickstarted the process. First, she got the ‘Divide UP’ resolution passed in the House and sent it to the Centre for approval. Naturally, the Centre could neither accept nor reject the proposal because in either case the sentiment would have gone in favor of Behenji. After that she did a Brahmin Mahasabha to woo the so-called higher classes. Then she organised a Muslim-Vaishya-Kshatriya sammelan to take care of the middle two classes along with the ‘minorities’ in UP. Since she is a Dalit queen herself, she assumes they will not leave her whatever be the weather.
The Election Commission too helped her indirectly in her cause when it ordered to cover all the statues of her and her party symbol elephants. The reason behind EC’s order was to create a “level-playing field” after many parties objected to the large number of statues of the chief minister and her party symbol that were installed in the last few years in the state at the state exchequer’s cost. (Read: Maya ki Maya: Statuegate and the Art of Cover Up) I always felt that a covered thing catches more eyeballs than an uncovered one — it’s the simple human curiosity about what is hidden inside. This, combined with the EC order, gave more publicity to Mayawati, which she also acknowledged in her birthday speech, though in a sarcastic tone (Read: Mayawati slams Election Commission as casteist, anti-Dalit). She also showed doors to some of her members because they were “tainted” and faced corruption charges against them and in turn acquired some moral grounds. Also, more than 100 sitting MLAs were not given tickets. Overall, the BSP seems to be taking well targeted steps. Mayawati makes the first pass; others are just trying to catch up.
Next comes the fast-moving cycle. Mulayam along with his “super-talented” son Akhilesh seem to moving pretty fast with cycles hanging all over their beautifully decorated bus. They are targeting what Maya didn’t say, what she couldn’t do, and where they can publicise the bad governance. They are taking on all — the Congress, the BSP, and the BJP and are relying heavily on their strongholds — the Muslims, and the Yadavs.
Congress too is not keeping its hand and head down. I compliment Rahulbaba for putting what it seems like an enormous effort. At the moment, he is the most hard-working person in UP and knows very well that a success (relatively speaking) in UP will directly translate into his position of power in New Delhi. Though it’s almost a no-brainer that he is the next PM candidate from Congress, even a small improvement in number in UP will make his case only stronger.
What surprises me is the last one. BJP till now has not done anything substantial in UP on its campaign front. It has not projected any leader, and no biggie seems to be going there. Whatever little it has tried to do so far had come back to hit it hard. The case of induction of Kushwaha is not unknown. Either the BJP brass is foolish, or is too smart. Or may be they simply don’t have anything up its sleeve and is hoping that those who would not vote for anyone else will vote for them. Much like the attitude our cricket team is showing in Australia– wait and hope for something to happen. More often than not, in such cases, something happens but not in your favor.
The case of BJP is making me curious. Either it doesn’t have anything to offer or it has accepted there is nothing left for them in UP, which once had given it everything.
Or it is preparing for the 2014 general elections much earlier than anybody else?
Is it working out an alliance with BSP, already flirting with Mamata, and meeting with Jayalalitha? With the BSP, TMC and the AIADMK as allies, an already strong position in Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh, plus some hope from Rajasthan and Karnataka can help BJP form a government in New Delhi. But, I know that’s only my imagination because Indian political leaders do have so much of foresight.
Back to where we started — Uttar Pradesh. My prediction is BSP, SP, Congress, and BJP in that order in terms of number of seats. BSP may not be in a position to form a government and in that case BJP becomes a natural ally. A surprise could be the rise of SP to an extent where it can form a government with some help from the Congress. Either Maya and Mulayam will be the next CM.
Politics in UP has always revolved around caste and would continue do so unless we, the voters, grow up! I wish that happens sooner than later.