DALIT-MUSLIM COMBINE: MAYAWATI’S SOCIAL ENGINEERING FOR 2017 UP POLLS

The article originally appeared on India Today.

Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) has announced almost all candidates for the Uttar Pradesh assembly polls due next month. Keeping her promise, she has given tickets to 97 Muslim candidates, almost one-fourth of the total 401 candidates announced so far. UP state assembly has 403 seats.

In the 2007 assembly polls, the BSP gave tickets to 61 Muslim candidates – 15 percent of the total BSP candidates in the elections. In the 2012 assembly polls, the count rose to 85 seats – 21 percent of the total count. And now it is at 25 percent.

From 15 to 21 to 25 – this gradual increase in the Muslim candidates is a clever ploy and it can prove a winning element if it works as intended – because the timing looks opportune.

WINNING NUMBERS

Mayawati’s focus is on the Dalit-Muslim combine this time. Dalits and Muslims are 38.5 percent in UP’s population – more than enough to give any party absolute majority in the UP assembly.

The BSP had got 30 percent votes in the 2007 assembly polls and won 206 seats. In 2012, the SP got 224 votes with a vote share of 29 percent.

So, a combine 38.5 percent makes sense to go for. And going by the prolonged Samajwadi Party (SP) internal power struggle that may alienate Muslims, who have traditionally voted for the SP, the timing looks perfect.

According to a CSDS report, 17 percent Muslims voted for the BSP in 2007 polls which rose to 20 percent in 2012. On the other hand, the Muslim votes to the SP saw a considerable decline – from 45 percent in 2007 to 39 percent in 2012. That may come significantly down this time, especially when Mayawati has made it clear that it will not go for any pre or post poll alliance.

There are expectations that the ongoing SP feud may earn positive points for UP’s chief minister Akhilesh Yadav as he has tried to shape this power battle within his own family and party as a war being waged against corruption with an uncompromising attitude. But how far it can help Akhilesh only time will tell and time has already run out.

Add to it the Muzaffarnagar riots, its aftermath with the stories of a life like hell in the camps for the riots affected people and the Dadri lynching incidents have the potential to erode the credibility base of the SP among the Muslims like never before.

REDUCING CLOUT OF THE UPPER CASTE CANDIDATES

It’s natural corollary then that the number of the upper caste candidates has to come down.

And they indeed have come down. The party had given tickets to 139 upper caste candidates in the 2007 assembly polls which came down to 117 in 2012 and has further reduced to 111 this time. Though they are still the largest block of the BSP candidates, the trend from the 2007 high shows their reducing clout.

The 2012 polls saw greater jumps in the SP’s Brahmin and Rajput vote shares than the BSP – Brahmins from 10 to 19 percent and Rajputs from 20 to 26 percent, the CSDS analysis says. In fact, there was even a decline in the Yadav vote share – from 72 percent in 2007 to 66 percent in 2012. But it was compensated well with increase in more Kurmis/Koeris (17 to 35 percent), Jatavs (4 to 15 percent) and Balmikis (2 to 9 percent).

ADDRESSING THE DALIT VOTERS

Doing so will address the chances of Dalit voters slipping away from the BSP fold as happened in the 2012 assembly polls. According to the CSDS analysis, 86 percent Jatav voters voted for the BSP in 2007 which drastically came down to 62 percent in 2012. Even more telling was the reduction in the Balmiki vote share which came down by over 40 percent – from 71 percent in 2007 to 42 percent in 2012.

The major reason behind this then was ascribed to Mayawati’s increasing tilt to the upper caste voters. The alienating Dalit voters felt disillusioned probably.

Also, the upper caste bet did not play well for Mayawati in the 2012 assembly polls. Even if Mayawati had given tickets to 117 upper caste candidates in 2012, 22 less than 2007, they were still the largest block of the BSP candidates. But according to the CSDS analysis, there was only a small increase in the upper caste vote share of the party – Brahmins from 16 to 19 percent, Rajputs from 12 to 14 percent and the other upper castes from 15 to 17 percent.

Not at all anywhere near to compensating the huge loss the BSP got – of Jatav and Balmiki votes! Even the share of the other SCs in the BSP’s overall votes profile, too, came down by 13 percent – from 58 percent in 2007 to 45 percent in 2012.

Now if Mayawati goes full throttle behind this Dalit constituency and works to add more Muslims to her vote base, from the existing 20 percent, she will be having a winning combination then.

©SantoshChaubey

BSP CANDIDATES FROM 2007 TO 2017: OPTIMISM SOARS WITH MUSLIMS, PRIORITY ON UPPER CASTES DECLINES

The article originally appeared on India Today.

Out of 403, the BSP has announced its 401 candidates for the 2017 assembly polls and according to Mayawati, the upper caste candidates are still the largest block of the candidates with 111 tickets given to them. According to a party release, candidates for the two remaining seats will be announced once the Election Commission decides about their reservation status.

There are 106 OBC candidates in the list. Muslims form the third largest block with 97 tickets given while, as in the previous assembly polls, Dalits remain under the hundred zone with 88 candidates in the fray. The party had given tickets to 89 Dalits in 2007 polls while the figure stood at 88 in the 2012 polls.

In 2012 assembly polls, the BSP had given tickets to the 117 upper caste candidates, 113 to the OBCs candidates and 85 to the Muslims candidates.

In 2007 assembly polls, the party break-up for its candidates was 139 tickets to the upper caste candidates, 110 tickets to the OBCs and 61 tickets to the Muslim candidates.

The trend since 2007, when India’s most populous state got it first government to complete full five years in office in Mayawati’s BSP, shows the rising prominence of Muslims in the BSP caste calculations.

Some months ago Mayawati had announced that her party would field around 100 Muslim candidates this time. In fact, Muslims are the only block of candidates that have seen consistent rise in the BSP’s votebank arithmetic since the 2007 assembly polls.

The number of tickets given to the OBC and Dalit candidates have remain more or less static since 2007 as the numbers say but the upper caste candidates have seen the biggest decline in their numbers, from as high as 139 in 2007 to 113 now.

The trend shows the BSP’s rising optimism with the Muslim voters and the declining priority when it comes to the upper caste population segments. The Muslim candidates have seen a whopping rise of 60 per cent from 2007 to 2017 while the number of upper caste candidates has come down by 20 per cent in the same period.

©SantoshChaubey

UTTAR PRADESH: A BIRD’S EYE VIEW ON 2017 ASSEMBLY POLLS

2017 assembly polls have been announced and the model code of conduct has been put in place. The penultimate round has begun and the centre of attraction of this mammoth exercise is Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state with maximum number of Lok Sabha (80), Rajya Sabha (31) and assembly seats (403), that makes it the nerve centre of Indian politics.

The state has three major political forces:

The Samajwadi Party (SP), the ruling party of the moment with its chief minister Akhilesh Yadav looking to retain the UP power corridors after completing his five years in the office. He is facing huge anti-incumbency and an acerbic family feud to control power in his party and looks pitted against senior leaders of the party including his father Mulayam Singh Yadav.

The Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP), the ruling party of the nation under prime minister Narendra Modi, has a mixed bag of credentials to go for in this election. While the party registered spectacular win in the state in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, winning 71 out of 80 seats, it failed to capitalize on that and has lost every bypoll in the state after the feat of 2014 LS polls. Also, it has no CM candidate to project like the other two major parties.

The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), the party that was in power for a complete five years before Akhilesh took over. Mayawati’s BSP has been in power in UP many times – including having power sharing arrangements with the BJP. In fact, the 2007-2012 Mayawati government was the first government in UP to complete five years in the office.

The electoral contest this time is going to be triangular and will be centred on these three political parties.

There are some minor political forces but they will not leave any impact apart from increasing the number of parties and candidates, making the elections thus more colourful. We can keep the Indian National Congress in this league. In spite of the intense efforts by Rahul Gandhi, the party is almost dead in a state that it ruled for some 30 years.

So, who is going to win these polls?

©SantoshChaubey

MAYAWATI’S ANTI-DALIT HEAT MAY BE ON BJP, BUT SP IS GOING TO PAY IN REAL TERMS

There have been more than enough incidents to give the political opposition ammunition to portray the BJP as an anti-Dalit party but what is interesting is how it is going to play out in Uttar Pradesh.

In the prevailing political circumstances, we can safely say that Uttar Pradesh is going to see a dual battle again, as usual, between the two main political parties of the state – the Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) – as the Congress is effectively out – and the BJP has lost the opportunity – though both of these parties will not leave any stone unturned in campaigning and canvassing.

That would add more colour to the atmosphere as the days to the upcoming assembly polls approach near.

But the core battle would be between the SP and the BSP only. And the BSP has clear edge this time – with caste equations, social engineering and anti-incumbency against the Akhilesh Yadav led SP government of Uttar Pradesh – slated to play out well for her.

Any development on the caste equation scenario, anything that would help Mayawati’s social engineering formula, that is going to be Dalit+Muslim combination this time, would hurt the SP more than the BJP.

If the BJP is facing the heat on the reports of anti-Dalit acts in the BJP ruled states and by the BJP leaders, Mayawati is going to be its beneficiary in the UP’s electoral politics, especially after a senior BJP leader of Uttar Pradesh compared Mayawati with prostitute. Initially Mayawati dismissed the issue but soon started ratcheting up her pitch terming it the attack on the Dalit identity. The senior BSP strategists would have advised Mayawati the Dalit politics potential of the issue after she initially dismissed it. That’s why we saw a changed Mayawati when the Rajya Sabha decided to debate the issue later in the day.

She was roaring. And she has kept roaring. Even if there have been clear debacles after the abusive behaviour of her party leaders came out in open who used derogatory language against women family members of Daya Shankar Singh, the expelled BJP leader who had used derogatory remarks against Mayawati and who is now on the run.

Even if Mayawati was forced to cancel his party’s statewide protests tomorrow, there was no sign that Mayawati was going to leave the issue. She, in fact, defended the language used by her party members.

Because she knows what she can get by playing the victim card to the hilt – consolidation of the Dalit voters behind her – something that the SP would like to scuttle at any cost.

To continue..

©SantoshChaubey

MUSLIM TILT TO MAYAWATI’S SOCIAL ENGINEERING

The article appeared on DailyO under the title – Dalits-Muslims will be Mayawati’s trump cards in UP polls.

In the 2007 Uttar Pradesh assembly polls, Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) gave tickets to 61 Muslim candidates – 15 percent of the total BSP candidates in the elections.

In the 2012 assembly polls, the count rose to 85 seats – 21 percent of the total count.

And for the next year’s assembly polls (in 2017), the party has announced to field over 100 Muslim candidates – almost 25 percent of the 403 candidates that the party would field for the 403 assembly seats of UP – as Mayawati has announced that the BSP would not form any pre-poll alliance.

From 15 to 21 to 25 – this gradual increase in the Muslim candidates is a clever ploy and it can prove a winning element if it works as intended – because the timing is opportune and the atmosphere is conducive.

Mayawati’s focus is on the Dalit-Muslim combine this time. Dalits and Muslims are 38.5 percent in UP’s population – more than enough to give any party absolute majority in the UP assembly.

The BSP had got 30 percent votes in the 2007 assembly polls and won 206 seats. In 2012, the SP got 224 votes with a vote share of 29 percent.

So, a combine 38.5 percent makes sense to go for. And the timing is perfect. According to a CSDS report, 17 percent Muslims voted for the BSP in 2007 polls which rose to 20 percent in 2012. On the other hand, the Muslim votes to the SP saw a considerable decline – from 45 percent in 2007 to 39 percent in 2012.

And in the prevailing circumstances, it is expected to come down further and here Mayawati sees her prospects. The Muzaffarnagar riots, its aftermath with the stories of a life like hell in the camps for the riots affected people and the Dadri lynching incidents have eroded the credibility base of the SP among the Muslims.

To give her social engineering a Muslim tilt this time, Mayawati has decided to field over 100 Muslim candidates, mostly in the areas of dense Muslim populations of the Western UP. And we should not be surprised if the count of the Muslim BSP candidates further goes up.

It’s natural corollary then that the number of the upper caste candidates has to come down.

And they indeed have come down. The party had given tickets to 139 upper caste candidates in the 2007 assembly polls which was reduced to 117 in 2012. Now, to consolidate her Dalit-Muslim plank, the BSP may decide to slash the tickets to the upper caste candidates even further.

Doing so will address the chances of Dalit voters slipping away from the BSP fold as happened in the 2012 assembly polls. According to the CSDS analysis, 86 percent Jatav voters voted for the BSP in 2007 which drastically came down to 62 percent in 2012. Even more telling was the reduction in the Balmiki vote share which came down by over 40 percent – from 71 percent in 2007 to 42 percent in 2012.

The major reason behind this then was ascribed to Mayawati’s increasing tilt to the upper caste voters. The alienating Dalit voters felt disillusioned probably.

Also, the upper caste bet did not play well for Mayawati in the 2012 assembly polls. Even if Mayawati had given tickets to 117 upper caste candidates in 2012, 22 less than 2007, they were still the largest block of the BSP candidates. But according to the CSDS analysis, there was only a small increase in the upper caste vote share of the party – Brahmins from 16 to 19 percent, Rajputs from 12 to 14 percent and the other upper castes from 15 to 17 percent.

Not at all anywhere near to compensating the huge loss the BSP got – of Jatav and Balmiki votes! Even the share of the other SCs in the BSP’s overall votes profile, too, came down by 13 percent – from 58 percent in 2007 to 45 percent in 2012.

Now if Mayawati goes full throttle behind this Dalit constituency and works to add more Muslims to her vote base, from the existing 20 percent, she will be having a winning combination then.

And to support her caste equations, she has the second most important electoral factor in her favour this time – the anti-incumbency. With her social engineering and a prevailing anti-incumbency against the Mulayam Singh Yadav government, she excelled in the 2007 polls.

In 2012, along with the disenchantment of a large section of the Dalit voters, she had behind her the anti-incumbency accumulated over the five years of her rule. Added to it was the promises of change from a young leader – Akhilesh Yadav – with a clean slate and professional education to back his credentials.

The 2012 polls saw greater jumps in the SP’s Brahmin and Rajput vote shares than the BSP – Brahmins from 10 to 19 percent and Rajputs from 20 to 26 percent, the CSDS analysis says. In fact, there was even a decline in the Yadav vote share – from 72 percent in 2007 to 66 percent in 2012. But it was compensated well with increase in more Kurmis/Koeris (17 to 35 percent), Jatavs (4 to 15 percent) and Balmikis (2 to 9 percent).

So, the upper castes showed a greater tilt towards the SP last time – in absence of any credible challenges from the BJP and the Congress – the traditional blocks for the upper caste voters.

Now that the BJP is in race, after winning 73 out of 80 Lok Sabha seats with a vote share of over 42 percent (along with ally Apna Dal which won two seats), the BSP may feel it is better to utilise it energy in galvanizing its traditional vote bank – the Dalits – and add a community to its profile that is traditionally anti-BJP and is feeling disenchanted with the SP – the Muslims – and leave the upper castes and the OBCs, the SP stronghold, to them.

Even the BJP strategists are reading this writing on the wall – of Mayawati’s efforts to create a winning Dalit-Muslim alliance and the party has started a campaign to counter it. The BJP is trying to send out a message that the Dalits and the Muslims have been historical adversaries. Only the poll outcome will tell how effective it is going to be.

This doesn’t mean that the BSP would abandon the upper caste plank of the its social engineering. Yes, but it would restrict its approach to them to the extent so as to not to alienate the core base it is trying to win.

And the other political block, the Congress is down and out even if there are reports that Priyanka Gandhi would spearhead the poll campaign in UP. If the party performs well, it will be nothing less than a miracle.

©SantoshChaubey

MAYAWATI’S ‘MUSLIM’ EXPERIMENT

In 2007 Uttar Pradesh assembly polls, Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) gave tickets to 61 Muslim candidates – 15 percent of the total BSP candidates in the elections.

In 2012 assembly polls, the count rose to 85 seats – 21 percent of the total count.

And for the next year’s assembly polls (in 2017), the party has announced to field over 100 Muslim candidates – almost 25 percent of the 403 candidates that the party would field for the 403 assembly seats of UP – as Mayawati has announced that the BSP would not form any pre-poll alliance.

From 15 to 21 to 25 – this gradual increase in the Muslim candidates is a clever ploy and it can prove a winning element if it works as intended.

Mayawati’s focus is on the Dalit-Muslim combine this time. Dalits and Muslims are 38.5 percent in UP’s population – more than enough to give any party the absolute majority in the UP assembly.

The BSP had got 30 percent votes in the 2007 assembly polls and it had won 206 seats. In 2016, the SP got 224 votes with a vote share of 29 percent.

So, a combine a 38.5 percent makes sense to go for. And the timing is perfect. According to a CSDS report, 18 percent Muslims votes for the BSP in 2007 polls which rose to 20 percent in 2012. On the other hand, the Muslim votes to the SP saw a considerable decline – from 45 percent in 2007 to 39 percent in 2012.

And it the prevailing circumstances, it is expected to come down further and here Mayawati sees her prospects. The Muzaffarnagar riots, its aftermath and the Dadri lynching incidents have eroded the credibility base of the SP among the Muslims.

To give her social engineering a Muslim tilt this time, Mayawati has decided to field over 100 Muslim candidates, mostly in the areas of dense Muslim populations in the Western UP. And we should not be surprised the count goes up more.

It’s natural corollary is that the number of the upper caste candidates have to come down. And they have indeed come down. The party had given tickets to 139 upper caste candidates in the 2007 assembly polls which was reduced to 117 upper caste BSP candidates in 2012. Now, to consolidate her Dalit-Muslim plank, the BSP may decide to slash the tickets to the upper caste candidates even more.

To continue..

©SantoshChaubey

JANATA DAL: 1988 TO 2015 – THE STORY REMAINS THE SAME

After much downs and few ups, six factions of the erstwhile ‘Janata Dal’ or evergreen ‘Janata Parivar’ came together to save India’s secular fabric – at least that is what they had claim.

And in process, they thought, they could make a front to revive their dwindling political futures.

But they could not or did not deliberate on ‘state Vs national’ aspect of their ‘coming together’.

Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh and Janata Dal (United) in Bihar are fighting to win the upcoming elections in their respective states.

An assembly election loss, after a humiliating show in the Lok Sabha polls last year, would be a heavy burden for Samajwadi Party to bear. The party may not recover from it. Losing assembly polls in Bihar, after complete decimation in the Lok Sabha polls, will make Nitish Kumar and Janata Dal (United), irrelevant in national and state politics.

Rashtriya Janata Dal, after Lalu Yadav’s conviction in fodder scam, is fighting a battle that he has already lost. An association with his corruption taint may be detrimental electorally. Samajwadi Janata Party exists only in three words, literally. Janata Dal (Secular) is losing its appeal in Karnataka.

The family head of the family show, Indian National Lok Dal, has been jailed for 10 years in a corruption case and his party failed to make any mark in the Lok Sabha as well as in the assembly polls.

And these six parties came together to form a combined entity together.

But it was an alliance of political opportunism with no political pragmatism.

Primary issues, potent enough to derail the process, like name, symbol and main party office of the new political entity were not worked out. And they remain elusive.

On ground, four of these parties have no or very less political currency left. RJD may work some political miracle given the prominence of ‘caste factor’ in the Bihar polls, but even that is not possible for others of the lot.

SP and JD(U) are restricted to UP and Bihar only – in their respective states. And they are fighting battles of political survival in retaining these states.

So, there is no conflict of interest – at least politically. SP can help JD(U) and RJD in Bihar and these two parties can do the same for SP in UP. But that needs prior understanding, that wasn’t tried to work out before the ‘grand Janata Parivar merger’ was announced.

After he left Congress, Vishwanath Pratap Singh had formed Janata Dal in 1988 to extend his political interests and as there was no ideology behind the move but a political purpose to somehow form the government, the party started witnessing splits fuelled by political ambitions.

It was Chandra Shekhar’s prime-ministerial ambition behind emergence of Samajwadi Janata Party or Mulayam Singh Yadav’s regional ambitions behind SP. Then Nitish Kumar and George Fernandes walked out with Samta Party. Lalu Yadav did his part by forming RJD in 1997. Om Prakash Chautala started his political family with Indian National Lok Dal. Nitish Kumar had one more split when he split Samta Party and formed Janata Dal (United) in 2003. Then there are more.

Since its formation, if Janata Dal has anything constant to talk about, it is its split after split at regular intervals – over a dozen and counting – splits fuelled by political ambitions.

Though Mulayam Singh Yadav has not walked out of the ‘reunited but still unnamed Janata Parivar’, he has clearly left the two parties of the new entity in Bihar. As told, he is feeling insulted and humiliated over the treatment meted out to his party in Bihar – by the political brethren of his ‘reunited Janata Parivar’.

But the real reason lies in securing the regional power centers first. The leverage that the combined entity can give in national politics comes later. If there is no regional political currency left, thinking of being a force at the national level will be nothing more than daydreaming.

UP being SP’s only power corridor, it needs to save it first, pooling and exhausting all resources to fight the wave of huge anti-incumbency to win the 2017 assembly polls. And it would avoid embarrassing and electorally sensitive elements like aligning with Lalu Yadav and Congress, the party that is its opponent in the state.

So, it was a ‘decision as per the political norms’ when he decided to walk out of the alliance in Bihar. In fact, by doing so, he can reap the benefit in a better way. SP has always been non-existent in Bihar. So, it doesn’t take the state seriously. Now, if the election returns, somehow, with better results this time, with the party again fighting on all seats, it would be a talking point for the UP assembly polls. After all, Mulayam can think of cornering some of Yadav and Muslim votes there – with increasing political isolation of Lalu Yadav (and Nitish would not like to see a politically stronger Mulayam Singh Yadav in Bihar).

Now, it is to be seen whether Sharad Yadav and Lalu Yadav become successful in brining Mulayam back into the alliance – as they are claiming.

But the development has clearly indicated one thing – and again – that Janata Dal was a loose amalgamation of different political groups which had come together to get into the power corridors and it had no ideology of its own – and every ‘satrap’ kept his political interests before the interest of combined entity. That led to its premature or early death.

In 1988, it was in the name of opposing Congress. In 2015, it is in the name of stopping BJP. In 1988, it had a combined identity, a name and symbol. In 2015, the ‘merged’ parties are still fighting elections as separate parties. In 1988, there was no political ideology to back the formation of Janata Dal. In 2015, the story remains the same.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

WHY MULAYAM SINGH YADAV WALKED OUT OF ALLIANCE IN BIHAR?

Samajwadi Party has no stake in the upcoming Bihar assembly polls. It is politically non-existent in the state.

Janata Dal (United) and Rashtriya Janata Dal have no grounds in Uttar Pradesh where assembly elections are due in April-May 2017.

Samajwadi Party is in government in Uttar Pradesh where the party won complete majority in 2012 assembly polls and Akhilesh Yadav became state’s chief minister. But the party had humiliating loss in the last year Lok Sabha elections where it failed to win any seats outside the ruling Yadav family and had to restrict to just five seats – all won in SP’s strongholds.

Bihar has Nitish Kumar from JD (U) as its chief minister. When he had fought the last assembly elections in 2010, he was in alliance with BJP. The ruling coalition had got a thumping majority. But due to some reason (read Nitish Kumar’s ego clash with Narendra Modi, the prime-ministerial candidate of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA)), he broke the alliance and fought the Lok Sabha polls alone. His party met with a big loss and was decimated to only two seats. Nitish Kumar took its moral responsibility and resigned, installing Jitan Ram Manji, a Mahadalit, as the CM. But Manjhi didn’t turn out to be the sort of puppet he was thought to be. He soon started speaking a language of his own political ambitions – giving indications of even aligning with BJP. That made Nitish uncomfortable. And finally, when Manjhi openly rebelled and declined to toe the line, the party sacked him and Nitish became the CM again – in a scramble to gain victory in the upcoming assembly polls.

In UP, it’s SP Vs them (including Congress).

In Bihar, it’s JD(U) + RJD + Congress Vs them.

And in both states, BJP is the principal opposition. It won 73 seats in UP (with allies, 2 seats) out of 80 and 31 in Bihar (with allies, 9 seats) out of 40 in the last parliamentary elections. And the party is putting its all efforts to replicate the show in the upcoming assembly polls in both states – next month in Bihar and in 20 months in UP.

These two states together share 120 of 543 parliamentary seats in India and are the heartland of Indian politics.

For BJP, winning these states would further strengthen its pan-India appeal and would provide legitimacy to its claims of being the largest political party with a nationwide acceptance. Without having strong political grounds in UP and Bihar, BJP cannot claim so – given the fact that is has been in government in both these states.

SP, JD(U) or RJD are regional parties. In spite of best of their efforts, they have failed to go out of the state they belong to. And their political sanctity and existence lie in securing that home citadel first. Yes, if the citadels are like UP and Bihar, the political nerve centres in India, its gives a big leverage in the national politics.

After parting ways with BJP, Nitish is trying hard to find the way that could win the electoral game for him. Likewise, Lalu Yadav’s compulsion to survive politically saw an ally in Nitish and they both came together. Though Congress has become politically irrelevant in Bihar, to manage caste equations, it was also taken in the alliance. And in the name of reuniting the factions of the ‘Janata Parivar’, SP also joined the bandwagon.

Even if the political realties had the potential to go the other way.

And it seems they are going the other way.

And that has made for another flip-flop by Mulayam Singh Yadav.

Nitish Kumar may win the Bihar polls but his alliance with Lalu Yadav’s party may derail the show. Lalu’s corruption taint has the potential to sully his chances. And it may threaten SP’s chances in UP as well, where there is already a huge anti-incumbency wave against Akhilesh Yadav’s government.

Also, Congress may be politically irrelevant in Bihar, but in UP, it still matters, where it won 28 seats with around 12% vote share in 2012 assembly polls. If Congress and the SP fight together in Bihar but as political rivals in UP, it would create an embarrassing situation that the party would try to avoid – because there would be no answers.

The priority (political) for SP should be saving UP first in 2017 – and focusing on Bihar, with many contradicting factors, would jeopardize efforts – because, going by UP’s electoral history and the anti-incumbency against the SP government, there are real chances that the party is going to lose the 2017 polls.

We need to see the decision of Mulayam Singh Yadav to walk out of the ‘grand alliance’ in Bihar in this context, irrespective of the reason he is speaking about.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/