By Alok Verma
Legendary film actors can’t act better than politicians especially the ones enticing voters in Uttar Pradesh. Enacting a drama to its perfection is the only hallmark of politicians and the best Bollywood film awards must reserve a category of awards to a politician for making ‘Best False Promise’ of the year. The jury might find it too tough to declare the winner.
The season for making false promises has started with a bang soon after the announcement of assembly elections. The State which has become the center-stage for offering bonanza of false promises is Uttar Pradesh. All the political parties armed with plethora of false promises have gone into the electoral battle with full throttle, outshining each other with better armoury of false promises.
The biggest truth that each political party is trying to camouflage with the word development is the ‘çaste’. Each party irrespective of its colour, is working on the list of candidates with caste as the only factor to distribute tickets. However, the mask of the campaign worn by every political party is of the development or as is called as ‘vikas’.
No matter what does the Supreme Court or the Election Commission say that ” political parties must not seek votes using religion or caste in their election campaigns”, the political system remains defiant. The country is yet to witness an example where a political party is found guilty of misusing the religion or caste while it is an open secret in the conduct of all political parties that all of them misuse the two blatantly and brazenly. But the two apex authorities probably have undefined constraints to act boldly.
Now coming to the realpolitik. Let us examine how the brand ‘development’ is used by all the political parties as a sobriquet for ‘caste’
If the BJP bigwigs are accusing the Samajwadi Party of no development in the State, the victor in the party battle Akhilesh Yadav is the poster boy of the development in the election campaign for the Samajwadi Party. Both the parties,in fact, are using the term ‘development’ for consolidation of caste votes only. Since the mathematics of winning each assembly seat in UP is dependent on the mix of caste and religion, every political party uses the term development or ‘vikas’ for the purpose of the ‘vikas’ of the caste and community in that region. However, innocent citizens of the State still believe that it is the development of the State that political parties have in mind. Sorry, it is not true.
Even the lackey Congress Party is pegging its campaign around ’20 saal, UP behal’ slogan to make its big dent in the UP elections only from the stand point of winning back its old vote bank driven by caste and religion. Mayawati is the only caste leader in the State who minces no words in wearing her vote bank card on her sleeves. Even her firebrand speeches has open reference of social engineering rather than the issue of development. So far, she has not touched the issue of development in her fiery speeches as her plank for seeking votes. However, the BSP has made a strong pitch on the issue of law and order against the Samajwadi Party.
Now let us look as to how each party is working on the caste formula to win the elections.
BJP: The party has divided UP into six regions namely Western UP, Braj, Kanpur, Awadh, Gorakhpur and Kashi. It aims to win at least 204 seats out of 403 on the basis of caste and religion. The party is banking on the 10% Brahmin, 31% non-Yadav OBCs and 7% non-Jatav Dalit votes.
SP: The party is banking on its core Yadav-Muslim support base. The Samajwadi Party is to recreate the magic by banking on the 20% Yadav votes and 19% Muslim votes. With the Congress party coming on board as an alliance partner there would be no confusion and also division amongst Muslim voters. This surely would make the position of the Samajwadi party strong.
BSP: The party’s core support of Jatavs and other Dalits is still solid. But the ant-incumbency factor is really not in favour of the BSP, which had given Mayawati an edge over SP in the 2007 elections. The BSP is banking on the vote bank of 13% Jatavs and 19% Muslims. But with a strong alliance between the SP and the Congress there is unlikely that BSP would have an absolute advantage of Muslim votes.
As the election campaigning further intensifies in the State there would be an unprecedented clamour amongst political parties of reaching out to voters on the caste and community lines. The party which finally does its maths right of caste politics will win the elections. However, the winning party will however dedicate its victory as a ‘vote for development’. Ironical !! Who cares??