Why the UP results could take India back by 20 years
With counting of votes round the corner, the Exit Polls are finally out. And if they are to come true, then Samajwadi Party could well be forming the next government in UP. Strangely, most people in Lucknow find this prospect scary and suddenly the common refrain seems to be: the party of the corrupt is still better than the party of the goons.
There are various reasons why Samajwadi Party is feared. One, it's perhaps the most brazenly opportunistic regional party whose loyalty can be bought by UPA whenever the UPA chooses to.
Two, the party can be shockingly inconsistent. So, while the party manifesto on the eve of the Lok Sabha elections in 2009 pledged to ban computers, this time around, the party has promised free laptops to poor students.
Three, the party is just as ignorant. So this time around it has promised 18 per cent reservations to a particular religion, a promise which can never come true till we decide to dismantle our Constitution. This, of course, does not deter Akhilesh Yadav, a supposedly well-educated chap, from making this promise rally after rally.
Finally, everybody knows what the law and order situation was under the SP government. In fact, till recently Samajwadi Party was proud to patronise law-breakers. Even though denying tickets to law breakers has helped the party, those in the know are pretty sure that post elections, the party will again embrace them.
As compared to SP's vices, the grouse that people have against Mayawati is that she patronised corruption, besides squandering away the public exchequer on statues. On the other hand, they credit her for keeping the law and order situation under control. And hence, surprisingly, faced with the prospect of choosing between Mulayam Singh and Mayawati, suddenly the latter seems a lesser evil.
I personally feel that Mayawati will spring a surprise. Clear majority may elude her but her BSP might still end up being the single largest party, in which case, the BJP might offer her outside support. A BSP-BJP alliance, as wishful as it may seem, is also important to trigger the process of realignment of forces before the 2014 polls. Should this realignment not happen, regional parties will continue to fight the Congress in the states and support it at the Centre, ensuring that an ineffective UPA never goes out of power.
Besides, the Bihar Assembly elections of 2010 showed a trend which might just hold true for UP as well. Fearing the prospect of Laloo's lawless regime coming back, the voters became all the more determined to keep Laloo out, which resulted in an unprecedented majority for the JDU. While Mayawati is nowhere close to Nitish Kumar in terms of performance, there are indications that on the polling day when a voter would have compared the two regimes, he'd have opted for the elephant.
Whatever be the final results in UP, both the BJP and the Congress will only be vying for consolation prizes. If the Exit polls hold true and Congress finishes fourth, then the party might have to refrain from projecting Rahul as PM in 2014.
As for the BJP, it's high time the party starts grooming new talent for important positions. By falling back on Uma Bharati, the party has sent a negative message to voters in the state: that the party has a serious dearth of new leaders.
It's high time the party realises that the voters have become far more demanding now: old wine in new bottle doesn't suffice anymore. The only way the party can revive its fortune is by letting new faces head its campaign.
While the country waits with bated breath for the UP results, one can only hope and pray that these results don't take the country back by two decades.
More about Tuhin A SinhaTuhin A Sinha is among the best-selling authors in India, a columnist and a screenwriter. Starting in 2006 with his first book, That Thing Called Love, an unconventional romance set in a Mumbai monsoon, Tuhin has written five novels. They include The Captain (formerly 22 Yards), Of Love And Politics, The Edge of Desire and The Edge Of Power. Tuhin is acknowledged among the most prolific Indian writers with a maverick knack to experiment with new genres. While his first book was an offbeat romance, The Captain was a cricket thriller that explored the underbelly of modern cricket. Of Love And Politics was a political thriller. His last two books which comprise the Edge series can be called socio-political thrillers with a strong feminist skew. Tuhin is a screenwriter of several popular TV shows, the most noteworthy being Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai on Star Plus. Apart from his fiction novels and scripts, Tuhin is a keen political observer. His columns on Indian politics appear regularly in India’s leading dailies. Tuhin has a regular blog on ibnlive.com. He also appears frequently on news channels on discussions around politics and cricket.
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