THE POLITICS OF CONVERGENCE
Friends make the worst enemies, says Frank Underwood in Season 2 of the chilling Washington political drama House of Cards. The laptop-loving Samajwadi Party ( SP) can download the 13 new episodes of the soap to see political chicanery that beats even theirs. And to learn the important lesson from Vice-President Underwood, never take anyone or anything for granted. For that may well be what will undo the SP in Uttar Pradesh in the next elections. If history and psephology are on the same page, then it is clear that Muslims in Uttar Pradesh may well desert Mulayam Singh Yadav and vote for Mayawati—the anger in Aligarh Muslim University which forced the SP chief to cancel his visit is a case in point. The politics of aspiration, or rather politics of desperation, will triumph over the politics of casteism.
Nor will it be the first time. It happened in 2009, nationally, when people voted for continued progress, giving Congress a larger mandate. It worked again in the state too, where Rahul Gandhi seemed to have broken away from the BSP and SP and was suggesting he was a stayer, not a sometime player. Voters gave Congress 21 Lok Sabha seats when they had only 22 Assembly constituencies. It worked in 2007 when Mayawati replaced Mulayam Singh Yadav’s corrupt government—though she quickly disappointed the voter by inducting criminals into her party. The BJP had been roundly defeated because it was then headed by Kalyan Singh whose close aide Kusum Rai was hobnobbing with SP.
It worked again in 2012, when Akhilesh promised a new politics, free of Amar Singh, D.P. Yadav, and Mulayam Singh Yadav. He promised English, laptops and jobs. Instead, the state again got appeasement politics and rampant indiscipline. The politics of aspiration alone explains why SP got 224 seats when their traditional Muslim and Yadav votes would have got them a mere 123. With a record number of riots and partisan administration, the state is now ripe for BJP’S picking. If senior BJP leaders are exulting over young Yadavs flocking to the party, it is with reason. They believe the party has been able to consolidate the
THE POLITICS OF ASPIRATION ALONE EXPLAINS WHYTHE SAMAJWADI PARTY GOT 224 SEATS WHEN THEIR TRADITIONAL MUSLIM AND YADAV VOTES WOULD HAVE GOT THEM JUST 123. WITH A RECORD NUMBER OF RIOTS AND PARTISAN ADMINISTRATION, THE STATE IS NOW RIPE FOR BJP’S PICKING.
Hindu vote, rising above caste lines, thanks to Congress’ emphasis on Narendra Modi’s Hindutva agenda, and SP’S mishandling of Muzaffarnagar.
Yet they don’t have to shout this from the rooftops. What they have to emphasise is the vote for development, which they are portraying as Modi’s core value. Modi suggests that he will not be doing politics as usual. So he speaks of not having any family to support, he gives concrete development suggestions which can be implemented, and he constantly talks of jobs. In a state with nearly 200 million people, of whom over 140 million are under the age of 36, no surprise then that in its final runup, the BJP is selling the magic of Modi. From March 1, there will be about 650 raths all over UP and Bihar, carrying snatches of Modi’s speeches in nukkad sabhas. Beginning April 1, RSS workers will be going door to door twice over asking people to vote for Modi. The BJP has also decided to deploy its 1,278 former MPs, MLAs, ministers and district coordinators in UP to ask people to vote for Modi and do buddhijeevi sammelans and pichda varg sammelans in all 80 constituencies.
Now the key is in ticket distribution. Will it be the tried, tested and discarded? Or fresh and ambitious? As a party insider said, BJP will win UP inspite of itself, not because of its efforts. They do not seem to have learnt the lesson from Delhi where they announced Harsh Vardhan’s appointment as the chief ministerial candidate too late and senior leaders like Arun Jaitley and L.K. Advani later admitted it too. This happened in UP in 2012, when the core group in Delhi under then party president Nitin Gadkari was deciding on tickets and people were lobbying in Delhi when they should have been in the field. Zealots like Subramanian Swamy may see a rise in the BJP vote percentage in UP as a consolidation of the Virat Hindu identity. Congress loyalists will see it as the culmination of the politics of communalism. But the BJP has a new term for it. It’s the politics of convergence. If the Congress wants to raise the communal demon, then the BJP’S attitude is the same as Underwood’s—just throw a saddle on a gift horse rather than look it in the mouth.