Uttar Pradesh:

Towards A New Social-Political Churning

Mulayam Singh seems to be heading for a fate similar to his former counterpart in Bihar . The popular opposition to the Mulayam Government is gaining momentum and a shifting of power groups was reflected first in district council elections and then in the two by-elections held recently, one in the eastern and other in the western part of UP, thus indicating a definite trend.

Two years ago Mulayam came to power, joining hands with Ajit Singh and Kalyan Singh, and splitting BSP, in complete violation of anti-defection law, thanks to the then BJP speaker in the Assembly. He manufactured a majority with the help of the notorious Raja Bhaiya and the likes of Amarmani Tripathi, and he then appeared to be heading a formidable social combination of OBCs, Muslims, Jats and Rajput power groups. Initially SP won most by-elections, humiliating Mayavati even in her stronghold, Ambedkarnagar.

However some novel features were visible in Mulayam Singh‘s strategy, from day one. The old idioms of Secularism and Social Justice were replaced with the new mantra of Development. He promised development with the help of his new friends - the big business tycoons, Ambani, Godrej, Sahara etc. In fact he constituted a Vikas Parishad comprising of these tycoons and headed by Amar Singh. His blatant attempts at wooing the Rajput power groups by ‘rescuing’ Raja Bhaiya and offering open patronage to criminals in his party and government were another hallmark of his new avatar. In all these endeavours, Amar Singh‘s services came in handy for Mulayam and accounted for Singh’s meteoric rise to no.2 position in the Party hierarchy, annoying not only the old guards but alienating even the core constituency of SP in pockets of eastern UP (from where Amar Singh hails). In the 2004 parliamentary elections itself, six Yadav MPs won on BSP tickets in eastern UP, giving the first signals of the vulnerability of Mulayam‘s new social strategy.

Mulayam Singh made many populist promises to various sections of the society, most notably peasantry and youth (he promised unemployment allowance to youth). However as time passed, the Government turned out to be completely insensitive to people’s grievances. Thousands of hapless people, mostly children, died of Japanese Encephalitis in eastern UP; agrarian labourers starved to death and peasants were forced to live in abject misery; but Mulayam and Amar Singh were busy wooing the business houses, enjoying dances in Mahotsavas and, of course building airports in Saifai, the native village of Mulayam Singh.

The betrayal of popular aspirations for development (especially basic infrastructure), and complete failure on the front of governance manifested in unprecedented criminalisation, resulted in popular disenchantment from the Government. Since Congress failed to make any semblance of revival and BJP too declined sharply from the status of third pole in state politics to non-significance in electoral terms, almost similar to the Congress, it was BSP that stood objectively to gain the most from the anti-incumbency sentiment. Mayawati responded by junking the last remaining vestiges of anti-brahminical ideological rhetoric, and began holding Brahmin Conferences to woo Brahmins, thus beating Mulayam at his own game of winning over upper caste power groups, particularly Rajputs. To arrest his declining fortunes, Mulayam Singh, in a Machiavellian move, recommended inclusion of some MBCs (Rajbhars, Binds, etc.) in the SC/ST category for reservation, instead of accepting their genuine demand for a separate quota within OBC category. It seems that this gimmick of pitting MBCs against Dalits and adivasis did not work.

It was in this backdrop that the Mau riots were engineered by Hindutva outfits – the Hindu Yuva Vahini of Yogi Adityanath and RSS. Then came the murder of BJP MLA Krishnanand Rai in gang- war. This provided BJP an opportunity to communalise the whole atmosphere and make a desperate attempt to win back its upper-caste vote-bank. Even as Mulayam continued to refuse to order a CBI enquiry into the murder, Advani addressed meetings in the slain MLA‘s hometown, Mohammadabad and went on to attend a protest dharna in Varanasi on December 6, the anniversary of the Babri Masjid Demolition. Vajpayee flagged off the so-called Nyaya Yatra of Rajnath Singh some days later.

Now one may wonder why Mulayam Singh allowed such a build-up first in Varanasi and then in eastern UP in the name of CBI inquiry! Actually, this is built into the very logic of the State‘s political calculus. Like their strategic conformity of interest in keeping Congress at bay, BJP‘s political revival suits Mulayam Singh; it checkmates the BSP by making the electoral contest triangular instead of straight one, and also because it blunts the possibilities of any popular mobilization and emergence of a democratic pole against the Mulayam regime. It is not surprising that, even as swords were apparently drawn between the SP and the BJP and Sangh Parivar, there were reports of Mulayam Singh‘s meeting with RSS chief Sudarshan in Lucknow

Intervening in the turbulent situation, CPI(ML) organized an impressive Secular March in Varanasi on Dec. 6 when Advani, too, was in the city to address the BJP dharna. CPI(ML) demanded a CBI inquiry into the Mau riots and the killing of the BJP MLA in gang-war, so that the BJP‘s role in the riots and then in creating communal frenzy on the issue of the MLA‘s murder could be exposed. The Party alleged that by refusing to recommend CBI inquiry, Mulayam Singh is providing BJP an opportunity for whipping up communal hysteria. CPI(ML) is making efforts for the formation of left-democratic block on a movemental–political plank and with this perspective, has interacted with the Kisan Yatra campaign launched by VP Singh and other forces against the ruin and devastation of peasantry by WTO and other governmental policies.

- Lal Bahadur Singh