Home > Archives (2006 on) > 2007 > June 02, 2007 > UP Polls Outcome : End to Mandal-Masjid Politics and Emergence of (...)

Mainstream, Vol XLV No 24

UP Polls Outcome : End to Mandal-Masjid Politics and Emergence of Mayawati

Saturday 2 June 2007, by Ravindra Sharma

The results of the UP elections have created avid interest among social scientists. Importantly, Dalits are emerging as the new ruler of modern India. The emergence of the BSP as a new ruling party will make a serious impact on the future course of Indian politics, striving, demanding and bargaining for more power in the years to come. Indian politics is witnessing a phenomenal change: the shift of power from the upper castes to the backward castes to Dalits. Interestingly, in the UP elections Dalits have successfully used the political influence of upper-caste Hindus and lower-caste Muslims to overthrow the backward castes from power. Tentatively, a few major conclusions may be drawn from the UP elections: first, the impact of the Mandir and Mandal politics is almost over, particularly in the Hindi heartland; second, India’s two ruling parties (the Congress and BJP) miserably failed to regain the trust and confidence of the UP voters; third, and sadly, the Indian Communists of all streams, the CPI, CPI-M and CPI-ML, failed to draw the attention of UP’s downtrodden sections; fourth, the SP lost power but not the role of an Opposition party.

Retrospectively, the earlier mentors of the Dalit cause, such as Baba Fulay, Periyar, Ambedkar, as also Kanshi Ram, had passionately worked to create a radical Dalit consciousness against the upper-caste Hindus; in fact, Ambedkar had written a classical piece, entitled Annihilation of Castes, arguing the unless the caste-barriers were removed, freedom would remain an empty The results of the UP elections have created avid interest among social scientists. Importantly, Dalits are emerging as the new ruler of modern India. The emergence of the BSP as a new ruling party will make a serious impact on the future course of Indian politics, striving, demanding and bargaining for more power in the years to come. Indian politics is witnessing a phenomenal change: the shift of power from the upper castes to the backward castes to Dalits. Interestingly, in the UP elections Dalits have successfully used the political influence of upper-caste Hindus and lower-caste Muslims to overthrow the backward castes from power. Tentatively, a few major conclusions may be drawn from the UP elections: first, the impact of the Mandir and Mandal politics is almost over, particularly in the Hindi heartland; second, India’s two ruling parties (the Congress and BJP) miserably failed to regain the trust and confidence of the UP voters; third, and sadly, the Indian Communists of all streams, the CPI, CPI-M and CPI-ML, failed to draw the attention of UP’s downtrodden sections; fourth, the SP lost power but not the role of an Opposition party.

Retrospectively, the earlier mentors of the Dalit cause, such as Baba Fulay, Periyar, Ambedkar, as also Kanshi Ram, had passionately worked to create a radical Dalit consciousness against the upper-caste Hindus; in fact, Ambedkar had written a classical piece, entitled Annihilation of Castes, arguing the unless the caste-barriers were removed, freedom would remain an empty of corruption and crime in UP, the other States, such as Delhi and Madhya Pradesh will happily welcome the BSP supremo in the forthcoming elections.

Sociologically, in UP’s politics, the contradictions between the SP and the BSP are also the contradictions of the materially well-off backward castes and the financially poor Dalits. In UP, while the SP represents the interests of the materially well-off backward castes, the BSP serves the interests of the socially oppressed Dalits. Not many social scientists noted a fact: that the demolition of the Babri Masjid had boosted the careers of two leaders: first, Lal Krishan Advani and second, Mulayam Singh. In fact, during the days of communal frenzy, Mulayam Singh proved to be an antithesis of Lal Krishan Advani. With the rhetoric of secularism, Mulayam Singh touched the pinnacles of popularity increasing the SP’s social base. In the 1990s while the BJP roused Hindu passion, Mulayam Singh captured the imagination of local Muslim traders and leaders. Significantly, with the fall of the BJP, the SP’s fall was inevitable. In UP’s politics, the BJP and SP flourished simultaneously, and they declined simultaneously. In 1990s, when the BJP was fighting for Hindu samman, the SP was trying to gain the Muslims’ sympathy, and the BSP was organising the Dalits, the Congress had no cardinal role to play. Mayawati seems to be a sharp political lady. She sensed the decline of the Mandir politics on the one had and the waning impact of the Mandal politics on the other. Factually, the implementation of the Mandal report had made Mulayam Singh a strong and popular leader in UP; at the same time, the Ram Mandir movement had also made the BJP a ruling party of UP. However, the representatives of Mandal and Mandir had converted UP into a “sick and criminal State”.

IN a democratic set-up, power may come and go; the rise and fall of political parties in parliamentary politics is a routine affair. However, a popular and strong leader must not lose his prestige. Ironically, Mulayam Singh not only lost power, but prestige as well. In his last tenure, crime, chaos, corruption anarchy, pandemonium and vandalism had indeed created a sort of serious insecurity throughout the State endangering the life of the entire civil society. More importantly, a coterie consisting of Amar Singh, the Bachchan family and Jayaprada had made a mockery of the Mandal Commission. Mayawati successfully used all the negative factors and issues which had created a “bizarre” situation in UP under the leadership of Mulayam Singh. A cardinal question comes to one’s mind. It is this: why did Mayawati strike an alliance with upper-caste Hindus and lower-caste Muslims? While discussing UP’s politics and society, one must keep certain points in mind: first, the wounded upper-caste Hindus of the post-Mandir phase were in search of a political shelter; second, the materially well-off backward castes were suppressing Dalits in the rural areas; third, the rise of radical Dalit consciousness had refused to serve the social interests of the upper-caste Hindus on the one hand and the backward castes on the other. In Mayawati’s thesis, the well-off backward castes are more dangerous political force than the isolated upper-caste Hindus. Hence Mayawati struck a deal with the upper-caste Hindus to overthrow the powerful backward castes from power in UP. As regards Muslim support, Mayawati was equally successful. Retrospectively, the Congress, traditionally, had been a natural party of UP’s Muslims (becaue of Nehru’s secular image). In the 1950s and 1960s UP’s Communist and Socialists strove to garner Muslim support, but in vain. UP’s Muslims’ disillusionment with the Congress began during the Emergency (because of forced sterilisation). In the 1977 parliamentary election, UP’s Muslims voted en masse for the Janata Party. Politically, in the 1980 parliamentary elections UP’s Muslims brought back Indira Gandhi to power. However, UP’s Muslims did not endorse Indira Gandhi’s decision to invade the Golden Temple and the demolition of the Babri Masjid wounded them further. In the 1990s Mulayam Singh, as a clever politician, became a champion of secular politics by taking a stand against the communal forces. However, in Mulayam’s last tenure, UP’s Muslims clearly saw a sort of tacit understanding between the SP and BJP behind-the-curtain. As a result, almost a year back, a sizeable section of Muslims started searching for a new organisation to safeguard their life and property. In this election, UP’s Muslims were divided. While the well-off, urbane businessmen and upper-caste Muslims supported the SP, the lower-caste rural Muslims and unemployed urban Muslim youth worked for the victory of the BSP. More importantly, UP’s Muslims showed no interest in organising the road-shows of Rahul and Priyanka. While the SP, for them, was a willy-nilly choice, the BSP was a natural organisation.

In developing societies, the anti-incumbency factor also plays a cardinal role in overthrowing the political parties; this was also the case in the UP elections. Most of the analysts have hailed Mayawati as a Chief Minister for three reasons: first, she is a woman; second, she is a Dalit; and third, she poved to be a master-strategist in making an alliance with upper-caste Hindus and lower-caste Muslims. However, for us, there is no reason to either rejoice or bemoan. If Mayawati can check the rate of corruption and crime, if she can stop vandalism and pandemonium, if she can deal with the communal forces with an iron hand, if she can provide subsidies to the farmers and re-inject vitality into the moribund and sick industrial units, if she can provide the basic civil amenities to the State as a whole, if she can open schools, hospitals and colleges with proper staff and infrastructures, if she can stop the migration from UP by providing jobs to the unemployed families, then we will certainly hail and celebrate Mayawati’s victory as the Chief Minister of UP. Otherwise, how does it matter whether a Chief Minister is a Dalit or a Brahmin, a Muslim or a non-Muslim, a male or a female? The fundamental goal of a Chief Minister must be to establish the rule of law, to develop the State and to enrich democracy, if not carry out land reforms.

Dr Ravindra Sharma is a Faculty Member at the Department of East Asian Studies, University of Delhi. He is a known political activist.

ISSN : 0542-1462 / RNI No. : 7064/62 Privacy Policy Notice Addressed to Online Readers of Mainstream Weekly in view of European data privacy regulations (GDPR)