The Congress and the Samajwadi Party alliance in the run up to crucial assembly election in Uttar Pradesh is being projected as the front runner to win the polls.
A halo has been created surrounding the alliance by the high-tech and extremely well-paid campaign managers hired by both the parties. The Prashant Kishore team has been on the payroll of the Congress party for the last one and half years and has tried every trick under the sun to improve its image in the state.
The Samajwadi Party’s campaign team is no less impressive. They have got top guns from the industry for image makeover and election planning. From London to Mumbai, they have got the best that is on offer in the market. And Akhilesh has been rather successful with his image makeover as he has tried to distance himself from his larger clan that many believed was behind lawlessness in the state.
Branding alone will not win elections in a state with a population of more than 200 million. After five years of lawlessness, nepotism, bias and lack of governance in the state, Akhliesh Yadav cannot be expected to win election and get back to power once again.
This is more true at a time when the party is badly divided and his own father, who has been the biggest leader of the party since its formation, is ready to campaign for his adversaries. His uncle Shivpal Yadav, who was the number 2 in Akhilesh cabinet and who is a candidate on Samajwadi Party symbol of bicycle, has claimed that he will form his own party after assembly elections.
The division runs rather very deep in the party. In many places the party has at least two candidates, one official and the other rebel. Rebels too have blessing of party leaders, making it rather very complicated for SP.
There is no denying that Akhilesh faces serious anti-incumbency against his government. While he might have built an aura of progress surrounding him, there is no real development taking place in the state. Law and order condition was as bad in the state as has always been the case under any Samajwadi Party government in the state. The bad law and order situation and the party’s affinity to rowdy elements had made common people’s lives miserable. They are so much fed up of the party and the misrule that they are looking to an alternative in Mayawati, who has a good track record as far as law-and-order is concerned.
Muslims will not vote for SP
There is no denying that the Yadav clan has depended on Muslims to rule the state. But after being fooled last time with Himalayan promises, Muslims are not going to be bitten twice through same promises. He and his father had promised reservation for Muslims in the state. After completing five years in the office he never even mentioned the word reservation.
Yadavs make only eight percent of the population in the state and without Muslims they have no chance at all to be a major player in the state politics, let alone win elections and rule the state. The party has been winning the state only on the strength of Muslim votes.
The Muslims of the state remain deprived and marginalized as ever. Their share in jobs and businesses remain low with no planning on the part of the government to lift the community out of poverty and deprivation. While some individual Muslims might have benefited from their proximity to the Yadav clan, others have been as deprived as ever.
Alliance with Congress may not rescue the sinking ship
Even after Samajwadi Party’s alliance with the Congress party before the assembly election, there is no hope that the SP will perform as well as it had done the last time or even emerge as the single largest party in the state assembly. The caste arithmetic doesn’t really add up anywhere close to that.
Congress has no visible sign of revival in the state and the SP has lost the trust of Muslims who brought it to the power. Unlike many analysts who are calling it a win-win situation for both the parties, it is very precarious situation for the two. Their support base is shallow and cannot help the two parties do well after five years of misrule.
Why Mayawati has all the aces
Political analysts are writing off Mayawati and her Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP). But she is going to surprise almost everyone in the forthcoming assembly election.
Political analysts have completely overlooked her outreach to Muslims and Brahmins. While they may still not accept it, the Dalit leader has won the support of both the communities for her cause. The Supreme body of Brahmins in the state, Akhil Bhartiya Brahmin Mahasabha has finally extended its open support to Bahujan Samaj Party. Members of Brahmin outfit expressed their strong support in favor of Mayawati when they met the BSP’s Brahmin face, Satish Chandra Mishra, and raised slogans like `Haathi Nahi Ganesh Hai...Brahma Vishnu Mahesh Hai...,''.
Muslims support to the party is no surprise as Barelwis and Deobandis are both supporting her. Ulama and Mashaikh Conference, a Barelwi group with some influence in western and central UP is soliciting support for Mayawati. An organizations consisting of Deobandi clerics is also supporting Mayawati and asking the people of the community not to support SP-Congress alliance.
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Syed Ubaidur Rahman is a New Delhi based writer and commentator. He has written several books on Muslims and Islam in India including Understanding Muslim Leadership in India.