UP elections: Defeat of caste-based corrupt rule
I disagree with those who think that BJP's victory in Uttar Pradesh is a victory of Hindutva ideology. There is no doubt that to some extent Hindutva appeal did influence the voters. But it was marginal only. In fact, several other factors played a crucial role in shaping the UP verdict.
In my view, UP voters have rejected the misrule of a regional party which failed to deliver the promises it made. There were near anarchic conditions in Uttar Pradesh. Common men did not feel secure under the SP rule. UP voters have also rejected caste-based politics in the state. SP rule became co-terminus with Yadav rule. Almost entire power was concentrated in the hands of Yadavs. There was not even the semblance of law and order in the state. I will like to relate my own experience to show how pathetic law and order condition was. About a year back I was waiting to board a Bhopal-bound train from a platform of Banaras station. Suddenly my attention was diverted and I saw a young man entering the crowded platform riding on his bike and driving it in full speed. I spotted a police constable and asked him to stop the motorcycle rider from driving on the crowded platform. Responding to my question, he told me, "It appears you not a resident of Varanasi. No Varanasi resident would ask such a question because such incidents are normal here." This episode itself proves how bad law and order was in UP.
Recently I read an interview by KPS Gill about the Akali misrule in Punjab. In the course of his interview, he said, "In Punjab DSPs were posted by MLAs' preferences, ....... by corporators, drugs, unemployment have turned state hollow."
Perhaps the same conditions prevailed in Uttar Pradesh. Nothing will move in Uttar Pradesh without the concurrence of Yadavs. Whether it was police or other areas of power you will find Yadavs everywhere. It was almost a Yadav Raj in UP. Not only it was a caste-based rule, it was a corrupt regime also. Akhilesh in the later part of his five-year term did try to improve the situation but it was too late.
In the months preceding elections, several communal incidents took place in the state. An innocent Akhlaque was lynched merely on the suspicion that he was keeping beef in his home. Many such incidents in which Muslim were targeted took place but the SP government not only failed to punish the guilty but also could not provide protection to the victims. This complacency on the part of the SP government resulted in total alienation of Muslims. There was a time when SP and its supremo Mulayam Singh were considered great protectors of Muslims. His commitment to Muslim well-being was so large that his critics used to call him “Maulana Mulayam”. He foiled the attempt of the Sangh brigade to demolish the Babri Masjid. In order to prevent Kar Sewaks from entering UP, he erected a wall on the bridge of Chambal river. But because of subsequent acts of indifference, Muslims lost faith in SP. Similar was the case of Dalits who also ceased to regard Mayavati as their guardian.
There are other factors which played a decisive role in the UP elections. The chief among them was the charismatic image of Narendra Modi. Sometime back I read "Mein Kampf" (Hitler's biography). In its preface Hitler writes, "I know that fewer people are won over by the written word than by the spoken word and that every great movement on this earth owes its growth to great speakers and not to great writers." It appears that Narendra Modi has been influenced by Hitler's assessment and has mastered the art of oratory. At present, he appears to be the most influential orator of the country. This oratory may not inspire intellectuals because it is too much of pedestrian. But his speeches touch the heart of men on the street. He speaks in their language. The BJP uses his oratory to the maximum by arranging his public meeting in a highly planed manner.
In fact, Modi's frequent visits and hectic electioneering have evoked criticism. Never in the history of independent India any prime minister gave so much time for a state's election. Prime Minister's visits place heavy burden on the exchequer. Therefore, prime minister's visits are not arranged in a liberal manner. Perhaps he ignored the possible criticism and spent three days in Varanasi alone. His massive electioneering did pay dividends.
The UP elections were regarded as a contest between the communal BJP and the secular SP-Congress alliance. Here I will like to point out that secular politicians should be honest, hard working and pro-people. Corruption and secularism can't co-exist. In many cases champions of secularism do not appear to be men of character.
In our country, polling booth management plays crucial role in deciding the outcome of the election. BJP has acquired mastery over the technique of polling booth management. It is reported that after 2014 Lok Sabha elections, BJP launched its preparation for 2017 Vidhan Sabha elections. Preparations were started under the supervision Amit Shah. More than 80,000 polling booth committees were constituted which remained active till the polling day. In contrast, the SP hardly made any concrete efforts for managing the polling booths. The SP continued to be a badly divided party till the commencement of election.
After the announcement of UP results, several newspapers and commentator gave the entire credit to Narendra Modi. This too is a highly exaggerated view. Modi factor did play some role but only marginal. There were several other factors (as outlined earlier) which influenced the mind of voters. If we insist that it was only Modi which helped BJP to get massive majority in Uttar Pradesh then the question can be asked why he could not influence voters of Punjab, Manipur and Goa.
In the end credit should be given both to voters and Election Commission for violence-free election in Uttar Pradesh.