Friday, May 11, 2007

Mayawati pulls of a stunner in Uttar Pradesh elections

So the results of the Uttar Pradesh election is out, and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) has made a stunner of a win. Mayawati has moved towards the half-way mark of 202 on its own, and with the Congress having declared outside support for the BSP, it is all set to form a stable Government on its own. In addition, with the way that political elements in Uttar Pradesh type of politics are, one can count on independents to swing the way of power, and provide more support to Mayawati. Further, splits in established parties to increase the strength is not ruled out.
For elections in states such as Uttar Pradesh, what really counts is the caste mathematics of the voting. The Congress used to have a combination of Muslims, Dalits, and forward castes when it used to win elections after elections. HOwever, over a short period of time, caste politics broke the party's winning ways, and reduced it to an also an after-ran. Now, in this election, the BSP has managed to stitch together a coalition of the Dalits plus a section of the forward castes (primarily Brahmins). This sort of voting on caste lines is not exactly something that we should be happy about, given that it tends to deepen the divisions of caste. But as a pure electoral gambit, her strategy of wooing Brahmins has really paid off; she always had the support of the Dalits, but with more Brahmins voting for her, she is now the next chief minister of Uttar Pradesh.
What went wrong for Mulayam Singh Yadav ? It would be hard to say that it was just people getting tired of his administration - it was a general layer of dissatisfaction with the level of law and order in the state, and his inability (or maybe not even attempting to do much) about preventing local strongmen from taking over entire districts. Further, he did not exactly set the state on fire through development; the state's power situation was a mess, water is not exactly something that people are assured of at all times; and lots of earlier bright cities in the state are in a state of decay (with the exception of Noida). Further, he has the reputation of having a hand in every deal that happens - people talk about all these all the time, and a lot of them have been proved almost correct if you evaluate the various controversies that happen in the state over a period of time.
What can this state expect next ? One can be sure that the money making routine will continue in the sense of a large overhaul of the babudom and police services so that pliant people can be brought in. One really does not expect too much to happen otherwise, the only difference being that not too many expect Mayawati to not be corrupt, but she is the unquestioned leader in the party, and does not suffer even a second line in the party heirarchy. One can hope that she has learned from last time, and tries to make this most populus state of the country into an Uttam Pradesh, but with out current cynical level of belief in politicians, you will not find people who really believe that.
It is the unintended measures that could help. In her fight against Mulayam Singh Yadav, she could end up breaking his network of local goondas and make things safer for people, especially because her constituency of the dalits are the ones who are most affected by local bahubalis. One example is Raja Bhaiiya, who must be literally shaking in his boots.
Losers - the BJP and the Congress. The BJP has been stopped in its revival, and is more dependent on the elections in other states now to bring back the feel-good spirit. And the Congress, they lost their vote bank to the 3 other parties, and all the promised Rahul effect went for a toss (although they can still claim that he is building a party for the future). Now they can offer outside support to the BSP without being actually needed by the BSP.

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posted by Ashish Agarwal @ 12:06 AM