January 03, 2014

RIOTS IN UP AND ELECTIONS 2014 - Part II


HOW THE RIOTS IN WESTERN UP WILL AFFECT THE FORTUNES OF PARTIES


Catch 22 situation: Yes, that is precisely the situation that Congress finds itself in Uttar Pradesh. In 2009, following Varun Gandhi's communal speech in his constituency of Pilhibhit, the Congress surpassed all expectations winning 21 seats after minority votes swung in its favor. Back then, it was heralded as the revival of the grand old party in the country's most populous state with party leaders
Rahul meeting a Jat delegation in Delhi
and workers crediting Rahul Baba for the miracle. Putting behind the disaster in Bihar in 2010, the INC, buoyed by its performance in the national polls, made its crown prince the face of its campaign here in 2012. Probably, confident of a good show following the hype around him in the media, Rahul Gandhi even tore the manifesto of the Samajwadi Party during a rally. However, it was Akhilesh and his outfit which walked away with the crown as the INC struggled to reach a paltry figure of 28. Though the Nehru-Gandhi bastions may be safe for the time being, there is absolutely no indication that the Congress may do well in 2014 polls in UP. As far as the western areas of the state are concerned, the conviction of its face in this region - Rasheed Masood for fraudulently nominating candidates during his tenure as the Union Health minister in 1990 is a big blow. The minority leader had quit the SP to join the INC in 2011 after a fall out with Azam Khan. The Congress' hopes of doing well here by allying with Ajit Singh's RLD too has been hit following the riots. As such, some in the party believe that they may do well if they discontinue the alliance with Singh and go all alone. What is adding to its woes is the fact that Jats seem to be shifting towards the BJP after it projected Modi as its PM candidate. The visit of the PM Dr Singh, the UPA Chairperson Mrs Gandhi and her son Rahul to relief camps to 'assess' the situation is nothing but a publicity stunt, with an eye on the national elections. Meanwhile, in a bid to attract minority votes into its fold, Congress leader Rashid Alvi has criticized the SP government of failing to protect the Muslims and calling the riots here, worse than the ones in Gujarat. Reservation for the Jat community, something that they are demanding for some time now, will tilt the balance in its favor.


The right platform: For a party that rose on to national politics following the demolition of the Babri Masjid in 1992, it is surprising that the BJP is in dire straits in its former bastion. Even in 2012, its performance under Hindutva icon Uma Bharati has been disappointing. However, on the eve of the
BJP President Rajnath Singh with Modi
General Elections, things seem to be finally going the saffron outfit's way. The nomination of tainted leader Narendra Modi as its PM nominee has galvanized the cadre. Aware that UP will be the key if he wants to occupy the top post, Modi has deputed his trusted aide - Amit Shah who has been accused of his role in the infamous Godhra riots in 2002, to manage his campaign in the state. In what was a clear case of raising the communal agenda, Shah paid a visit to the Ram Janmabhoomi site in Ayodhya, reiterating his party's stand to construct a Ram temple there. The crackdown by the SP government on the Ayodhya Yatra organized by the VHP, a constituent of the Sangh Parivar has been criticized by the party's top leadership. And a few months later, the riots in Muzaffarnagar has given another opportunity to the party to win votes. Although the state government has slapped cases against two of its MLAs - Suresh Rana and Sangeet Som under the stringent National Security Act (NSA) for whipping up communal flares, the party has in fact, felicitated them. If reports coming from the region are to be believed, the Jats are moving towards the BJP, impressed by the charisma of its leader, Mr Modi. Such a shift will be a major boost to the party. For the Gujarat CM who his known for his brash style of politics, the communal violence in Muzaffarnagar may propel him to New Delhi, similar to the incidents in Godhra back in 2002, which made him the most popular leader in Gujarat.

The sleeping giant: In 2007, Bahujan Samajwadi Party (BSP) supremo beat all odds to script a fairy tale victory by crossing the half way mark on its own, courtesy 'Social Engineering'. However, after completing her five year term, which was marked by brazen corruption and shameless self
BSP supremo Mayawati
glorification, Behenji was routed by her bete noire - SP's Mulayum Singh in the next state polls. The sly vixen that she is, Mayawati kept a low profile following the electoral drubbing. Like a python waiting for the prey to walk into the trap, she waited all along for the young Akhilesh to falter. With the SP government failing to deliver on all fronts in the last two years, the BSP will try to maximize its poll prospects by attacking the regime for its failure to control the riots. With the SP and the BSP being the two main political parties in the state, the mistakes made by one generally helps the other. As such, it should not be surprising if Mayawati finishes first in the four way contest for Uttar Pradesh during the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. The BSP leader has always nurtured prime ministerial ambitions; you can expect her to go all out against the Yadav regime in the coming months. Another weapon that Mayawati has in her arsenal is, as mentioned earlier - Social Engineering. Like in 2007 when she romped home to power after weaving together the Dalit-Brahmin alliance, Maya may do exceedingly well in western UP if she can chose the right candidates.


For the previous post on this topic, click here (Link)



IMAGES

(1) Rahul meeting a Jat delegation in Delhi
Source: Indian National Congress - Official Website (Link)

(2) BJP President with Modi
Source: BJP - Official Website (Link)

(3) BSP supremo Mayawati
Source: The Hindu - Mayawati sees SP-BJP conspiracy (Link)