UP Elections
Unfurling an Independent Left Banner

Akhilendra Pratap Singh

Before October 17, the day on which the term of the current Presidential rule expires, Uttar Pradesh will elect its 13th Vidhan Sabha. The state machinery as well as the political parties are gearing up for elections which have acquired national importance in the prevailing situation. UF under the leadership of Mulayam and BSP, are organising rallies and big meetings while the BJP is yet to launch its campaign. The pattern of this election will revolve around the balance of social forces visible in the 11th Lok Sabha with some important changes. BSP-Congress alliance has yet to make a direct political impact - Dalit social base will enable only those Congress candidates in possession of a personal capacity to win back upper caste, particularly Brahmin, votes. Thus BSP is unlikely to gain anything direct from this opportunist alliance though it will make the BJP lose some seats.

Compared to other formations, BJP is placed in a better position but there are some obvious obstacles in its way. In parliamentary elections, Atal Behari Vajpayee was BJP's consensus candidate for primeministership and his appeal was based on Hindutava nationalism and he is a person with clean and liberal image in BJP camp. In these assembly elections, the party is divided over the issue of chiefministership while issues and slogans have yet to be concretised. Its communal agenda does not enjoy the same appeal and response and a vertical split in the BJP in Gujarat has put it on the defensive. The Vaghela episode has revealed again the backward-forward divide in the BJP leadership which may further develop into a factional fight in the state organisation. Though majority of the Jat community are with the BJP's Tikait's tilt towards UF and Ajit Singh's desire to form a new party may damage the chances of BJP to some extent. The independence day declaration of Deve Gowda regarding the formation of Uttarakhand state has enhanced the position of ND Tiwari who is the main contender with BJP in the hill areas.

BSP's target is Mulayam, the party's campaign is revolving wholly around the emotive issues like June 2 Guest House incident where Mayawati was humiliated by Mulayam's goons, without touching a single issue of dalits. Secondly, BSP has left the Bahujan slogan and replaced it with the cry of 'Sarvajan' aimed at attracting the upper castes and recruiting a number of notorious feudal and mafia elements. At the same time, it is trying to impress the Muslims that it is not Mulayam but BSP which can defeat BJP.

However, majority of Muslims are still with UF, all its constituents have accepted Mulayam as their leader in U.P. Even though Mulayam enjoys the support of a major social base, his past misdeeds like the Muzaffar Nagar and June 2 incidents are not allowing him to go on an offensive. UF is aware of this fact and knows that Mulayam is not going to be the next Chief Minister. That is why it is keeping its option open for allying with Congress-BSP alliance after the elections.

Going beyond the immediate nature of alliances and alignments, this election is also reflecting some distinct things. Earlier, political parties were appealing to backward-dalit votes but now even BSP is actively soliciting upper caste support which is also a cause of BJP's growing vulnerability and at the same time they are not raising any socio-economic issues affecting the lives of people. Here, once again the CPI-CPI(M) have failed miserably in cognising the direction in which politics is moving.They are still clinging on to the old practice of projecting Mulayam as hero of secularism when it is clear that he is no longer in a position to check the rise of the BJP.

The only real answer to BJP can now be an independent left plank revolving around the basic issues of the people which CPI(ML) is propagating. Even though the votes we got in the parliamentary elections were not satisfactory, our political propaganda compared with other left parties was more effective. Our party has decided to contest the coming election independently in about 50 seats with the aim to further expanding our influence and propagating the plank of independent left assertion.

BSP's Effective Workers!

Kanshi Ram on former Chief Minister Mayawati's confrontation with bureaucracy: "We have gained from this. In UP, there are 137 Dalit IAS officers - roughly the same number as the Brahmin officers. And during our rule, we had appointed a Dalit chief secretary and 40-odd Dalit officers as district magistrates. Today, as a result, it is these Dalit IAS/IPS officers who are raising fund for the BSP. They have become our most effective workers, and forces of change. They come and tell me, `We are in Lucknow jail'. Each of them is contributing roughly Rs 50000 and is collecting Rs 5 lakh from junior Dalit officials. Earlier, it was our Rs 10 coupons which used to be sold out quickly. Now it is the Rs 1000 coupons which are selling - demonstrating that the economic status of our supporters is improving."
(Times of India, 9-1-96)

Dalits in the Agrarian Scene of UP

The state of Uttar Pradesh has witnessed many chief ministers in the last one and half decade: from VP Singh, the messiah of social justice, to Mulayam Singh, the Socialist, from the 'backwards leader' from BJP Kalyan Singh to the first ever dalit women chief minister Mayawati. Yet there has been little improvement in the lots of the toiling rural dalit masses.

According to the data compiled by the Dalit Data Bank, the biggest problem faced by dalits is land alienation: The percentage of cultivators among SCs in 1981 was 47.70. In 1991, it came down to 42.43. 5.7% of SC cultivators have ceased to become farmers at all. Most of them have become agricultural labourers. The percentage of SCs in farm workforce in UP in 1981 was 34.98 and in 1991 it increased to 38.77. 3.7% more members of the community have joined the ranks of agricultural labourers. This despite a number of welfare schemes, 'implementation' of land reforms and promises of social justice by reactionary politicians of all hues. This was aso the period which witnessed thousands of instances of atrocities on dalits.

The SCs comprise 21.05% of the state's population today. The SC population depending on the agricultural sector in 1971 was 85.43%. It was 81.40% in 1991. In two decades only about 4% of the SC population have moved away from agriculture, indicating slow occupational mobility. Notably, the figure during 1981-91 was 1.28%.

The proportion of SC cultivators in small, semi-medium, medium and large holding categories is shrinking fast. Their share was 18.39% in 1981 and it came down to 15.39% in the 1991 census report.

In UP, 0.23% of the cultivators in the large landholding category - who are mostly upper castes - have on an average per capita landholding of 15.35 hectares whereas 84.27% of cultivators - who are mostly dalits - have on an average per capita landholding of just 0.34 hectare while 10.64% of the cultivators of semi-medium, medium and large landholding categories - among whom a sizable section are backward castes - own 44.13% of the total agricultural land.

BSP, the so-called party of dalits, has virtually no programme for these large mass of dalit agricultural labourers and poor peasants.

Come Forward to Smash Communalism
under the Leadership of Communists!

[The following is the text from a pre-poll propaganda leaflet issued by the UP state unit of CPI(ML)]

The steep price hike of petrol, diesel and cooking gas a few days before the budget by the UF government and its pro-foreign companies, pro-big bourgeoisie and pro-rich farmers budget has proved that this government too, of the so-called democratic parties, is committed to follow the policies of Congress and BJP. Attacking the interests of the working-class and the common man the economic policies of this government have earned the public's disenchantment. BJP is taking benefit out of this and is trying to add a communal colour to this disenchantment. While it is in the name of opposing this very BJP that the UF government is bowing down to the Congress. On the orders of the leader of the scamsters, Narasimha Rao, the UF government has given such a governor to UP who has a past of crushing leftist interests and democratic aspirations.

The whole state is enveloped by communalism, criminalisation of politics, anarchism and terror. On the one hand, where landless labourers and poor peasants have been denied minimum work and minimum amenities along with all democratic rights, the mill-owners have not only blocked crores of rupees of sugarcane farmers but they have also scrapped the agreement between them and the farmers for purchasing sugarcane. Under this forced condition farmers had to burn their sugarcane in the fields itself. Attacks on Dalits and women are continuing unchecked. Students and youths have been left in a directionless state. There is no plan to either revive the sick industrial units or to open any new units. The whole state has been hit by power shortage. Prime Minister Deve Gowda is busy in making hollow promises for the development of the state.

The struggle to maintain the identity of SP is the single most important struggle for Mulayam today. It still reels under the fascist-like behaviour of his earlier government in the state and this is the reason why it is not in a position to lead the anti-communal struggle. CPI and CPI(M), which failed to install a governor of their choice, even have a shortage of issues to highlight and merely tail the centrist parties.

Kanshi Ram's BSP is betraying the interests of the Dalits and evading their issues. He is distributing certificate of honesty to the leader of all scams, Narasimha Rao. Legitimising this opportunist alliance with anti-Dalit Congress and strengthening this tie-up, it says, is the path for Dalit emancipation. The struggles of the Dalits for land, wages and better living conditions are moving ahead but BSP is unsuccessfully trying to misguide these struggles and also trying to bring Dalits under the feudal forces like Congress.

The issue-less BJP which was thrown out of the seat of power at Delhi within 13 days, has started its campaign to whip up communal tension so as to capture power once again. Rejected by the workers, Dalits, backwards and minorities, its internal divisions are also getting serious. The feud between Kalraj Mishra and Kalyan Singh is now a common point of discussion. The political decision of extending counter-guarantees to the American firm Enron by this party's government at the centre within the 13 days of its tenure, has once again proved that this party is all for imperialist forces like US and has nothing to do with the interests of the nation. Not only this, the way it compromised with its issues to stay put in power at the centre, proves that this too is an unprincipled party that would readily make compromises.

It is the need of the hour today that the state be saved from the menace of communalism, to smash the fascistic designs of BJP and for the development of the state. Our party, CPI(ML), has for the past many years steered its efforts in this direction and even today is strongly fighting against communalism, holding high the red flag along with hard-working masses. The experience of fighting communalism in the state under the leadership of the centrist forces has shown that the evil designs of BJP cannot be smashed with this type of political practice. The experiments with the principle of Bahujan and that of centrist politics have failed. Only under the leadership of communists can forces of communalism be defeated. Come, let us mobilise all communists under the banner of CPI(ML) and march ahead in lakhs in this important campaign


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