Mainstream, VOL LV No 13 New Delhi March 18, 2017
BJP Government in UP Doesn’t Bode Well for the Poor and Democracy
Sunday 19 March 2017, by
The shocking victory of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the North Indian State of Uttar Pradesh with over three-fourths of the seats in the Assembly elections appears too one-sided to be true. I had predicted a victory for Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP). It remains a mystery that without a wave in their favour how the BJP almost swept the elections and Mayawati ended at the third spot behind the Samajwadi Party.
Leader of the BJP Narendra Modi has given a slogan: ‘With everybody’s support, Develop-ment for all’. However, in the last general elections for Parliament and in the recently concluded State Elections the BJP did not put up a single Muslim candidate, nor did it expect the Muslims to vote for it. Muslims constitute 19.3 per cent of the UP population. The BJP and its ideological parent, Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS), have sent out a clear message that they don’t care for Muslims and can win elections without their support.
The BJP doesn’t represent one-fifth of the State population and worse does not want to take any responsibility on their behalf. During India’s partition between India and Pakistan communal violence engulfed the subcontinent and the people were thoroughly communalised. The second phase of communalisation started in 1992 from the Ram temple movement and has created a mental gulf between the Hindu and Muslim communities. In India Muslims were insecure then and are insecure now. This doesn’t portend well for the country. The demolition of the Babri mosque in 1992 has invited the problem of terrorism to India, the first series of bomb blasts taking place immediately after the demolition in early 1993 in Mumbai as a reaction to the incident.
This is precisely the Gujarat model. Segregate the Hindus and Muslims and then deny the Muslims of their basic rights. In today’s Gujarat Hindus and Muslims can’t live together. The Sachar Committee report reveals that the social, economic and educational status of Muslims is only slightly better than that of the Dalits. If the national level of poverty is 22.7 per cent, then 31 per cent Muslims and 35 per cent SC-STs are poor. About 40.7 per cent Muslims fall in the Other Backward Classes category and constitute 15.7 per cent of the OBC population. The condition of Arzals in Muslims is as bad as the Most Backwards Classes.
A politics which boycotts a section of the population is inconsistent with the spirit of demo-cracy. Narendra Modi is the first Prime Minister of the country who is establishing himself as a leader of the Hindus. The kind of statements he made during the UP election campaign—of more electricity being given on Ramzan than on Diwali, money given for constructing the boundary wall of the Qabristan but not that of the Shamshaan and blaming elements from across the border, implying in Pakistan, being responsible for a train accident near Kanpur which had taken place a while back—have not been made by any PM in the past. If the BJP had any inkling of the lopsided results it was going to get, there was no need for the PM to adopt a communal posture. This makes the victory suspicious. When Modi became the PM, the now deceased President of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Ashok Singhal, claimed that Hindu rule was back in India for the first time after the Mughal rule. Interestingly, he didn’t make this claim when Atal Behari Vajpayee was the PM because Vajpayee didn’t have a communal image. Narendra Modi is living up to the pompous claim of Ashok Singhal. The idea of the PM identifying himself with only one community is also incompatible with democracy.
Consolidation of Hindu votes by creating a false impression that other political parties have pampered Muslims is a cruel joke with Muslims. The reality is that Muslims are a deprived community in India, most of them self-employed but poor. In many incidents now it is becoming clear that the youth from this community are made accused in bomb-blasts or terrorist incidents and then acquitted because of lack of evidence after having spent a number of years in jail, completely devastating their lives. Such a ploy strengthens the notion among the majority community that Muslims are behind all such incidents as the news about their arrests are highlighted but not of their acquittal.
Irom Sharmila securing merely 90 votes in Manipur is as shocking as the BJP’s victory in UP. People in UP have voted Amanmani Tripathi, accused of his wife’s murder and whose both parents are in jail on the murder charge of Madhumita Shukla, and dons Mukhtar Ansari and Raja Bhaiya with criminal backgrounds as MLAs.
Hence it is clear that people don’t vote in a rational manner. To win an election it requires money—legal and illegal—, organisation and even adopting unethical methods of exploiting the caste and religious sentiments of the people even if it may mean creating more friction in society. People may not vote for a candidate like Irom Sharmila who symbolises simplicity, commit-ment to high ideals like truth and non-violence and sacrifice but may prefer to vote for criminals who symbolise everything wrong in society.
Some people harbour the illusion that a BJP Government will offer clean governance or will usher in an era of merit. As many of 137 candidates of the BJP in the UP elections had criminal background. Every one in four BJP candidates was accused of serious criminal charges. Every three in four BJP candidates were crorepatis. Can anybody claim that the BJP candidates spent within the prescribed limit set by the Election Commission on election campaigning? Where did the amount spent over and above the prescribed limit, obviously in the form of black money, come from, especially in the new currency notes? Are these candidates representatives of the common citizen, who is neither criminal nor rich nor corrupt? It is a party of the rich and capitalists and will work for them.
Like other parties the BJP too manipulated the caste arithmetic by focussing on the non-Yadav OBC and non-Chamar-Jatav Dalit votes. Alliances with the Apna Dal and Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party were caste-based alliances. Keshav Prasad Maurya is the BJP President in UP because of his caste. To dispel any doubts that caste and not merit will continue to guide Indian politics, we need to go back to the Bihar elections. Narendra Modi had to claim in a most melodramatic manner that he will lay down his life but not dismantle the caste-based quota system after the RSS chief, Mohan Bhagwat, made an adverse comment against the system of reservations.
In its over-enthusiasm now the BJP is claiming that it got Muslim votes as well. This claim is ludicrous as the BJP would have made some attempts to attract Muslim votes by putting up some Muslim candidates or by appointing some Muslims as important office-bearers just like it did with the non-Yadav OBCs and non-Chamar-Jatav Dalits. But it did nothing of the sort. How it won the Muslim majority constituencies will forever remain a secret.
Noted social activist and Magsaysay awardee Dr Sandeep Pandey is the Vice-President of the Socialist Party (India). He was elected to this post at the founding conference of the party at Hyderabad on May 28-29, 2011.