By Anirudh Singla
The battleground in UP is readying itself. It looks no less than the ‘Mahabharata’. An atmosphere of persuasion looms as sects are pushed to take sides.
The annotation of populous religion and caste-based societies as kingdoms with greater military power continues through effective vote-bank politics’ schemes.
With four major factions in lieu to political differences: the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Indian National Congress in alliance with the Samajwadi Party (SP), Bahujan Samaj Party and the Rashtriya Lok Dal battling for the UP turf, the supporting communities that back them have become the foremost deciding factor.
The Bharatiya Janata Party – faltering dominance
The Bharatiya Janata Party currently holds the reins of the Central Government mainly due to their magnificent performance in 2014 General Elections in UP. The 2017 UP Assembly elections now serve as the ultimate litmus test for evaluating the efficacy of the ‘Modi-Wave’.
With religious polarisation and specified communities acting as beneficiaries for selective schemes, the SP has earned strong disliking from the Hindus. Taking advantage of this along with the family feud between the Yadavs in SP and Mayawati’s absence from political limelight, BJP could try to realign the brilliant figures of 2014 again.
However, hosting politicians like Yogi Adityanath who make inflammatory statements that hurt Muslim sentiments, their anti-Muslim image would not bode them well.
The Babri-Masjid issue and talks of constructing a Ram Temple would almost shred the chances of BJP acquiring any Muslim Votes. BJP would also have to face the ire of Jats who are currently in pursuit of organising agitations concerning the lack of fulfilment of the ‘Reservation’ issue. Yadavs and Dalits have always been a loyal vote bank to BSP/SP, so the tides are not very much in BJP’s favour.
Indian National Congress & Samajwadi Party – A counteraction
Having been the only party in UP to have survived the ‘Modi-Wave’ and not succumb to anti-incumbency, the SP has managed to stay afloat despite numerous setbacks.
With a stronghold on mainly three caste-communities (with reference to percent populace of the state); Muslims (19%), Yadavs (9%) and Rajputs (8%), the SP with the help of Congress has a high probability of storming back to power. Post the 2014 aftershock, SP has appeased its target vote-bank by selective law-enforcement policies and introducing large-scale infrastructural projects – upping its agenda in terms of development. For Congress, the only source of strength derivable is its new-found association with SP.
However, the lawlessness in the state hasn’t been curbed as promised. Though there haven’t been incidents of full-fledged riots in politically volatile regions for the last 5 years, a lot hasn’t been done. Another huge obstacle that could cause the SP to spiral down the political domain is the negative publicity it garnered owing to the father-son feud. With mistrust running deep in the family, the voter will undoubtedly take this incident into cognisance.
The Bahujan Samaj Party – the dark horse in the elections
Single-handedly forming the government in 2007, BSP has never been able to form the government with a majority again. Having gone virtually extinct in the 2014 General Elections, it would be a huge challenge for them to establish a strong footing in the Assembly elections.
Their traction among Muslim Voters is on an increased high. Mayawati has been successful in keeping the BJP at bay by either splitting the votes or winning them. A loyal vote bank that has stuck with the BSP in all highs and lows. Therefore, a sizeable turnout from Dalits is expected.
On the other hand, BSP’s low interaction with the media and unseen prowess of campaigning puts it at a disadvantage. Mayawati’s BSP has to literally rise from the ground to establish some front. Not in the ranks of political heavyweights anymore, its rivals revel in their beliefs of winning the elections and merely consider BSP as a vote-divider and not a strong competition. Mayawati would have to field candidates in more than 85% assembly seats in order to garner some impact, lest BSP charters an off-course path for itself in the future.
Considering the political affiliations, as speculated for different communities, the electoral battle in the ‘heart of the nation’ would be one to watch out for.