It will not be wrong to say that the Indian democracy is based on ‘cast system’. It sounds very derogatory but is sadly true. The main governing force as in cast vote bank in any part of India is function of – Muslims, Dalits, Brahmins, and various segments of OBC. It is important to understand that within the core segment, we have two dominant castes – Dalits and Muslims which is mostly united and form the biggest ‘vote bank’ in India.
All political parties big and small are committed to woo this vote bank. It is also observed that various political parties have subdivided or clubbed the ‘core caste votes’ – Muslims, Dalits, Brahmins, and segments of OBC for the basic gain viz. for long BSP focused on Dalits and Brahmins, Samajwadi Party worked on the prime equation of Muslim and Yadav. In recent times, we are witnessing two key changes in the Uttar Pradesh political landscape. First, emergence of Stepney Caste Vote Bank and second, changing priorities of Dalit and Muslim Vote Bank.
Emergence of Stepney Caste Vote Bank: We have witnessed that all prominent political parties have defined cast equation and there are many small niche cast based political parties. We all know that the prominent parties have well defined vote bank. In the volatile political scenario, all prominent parties both national and regional are working hard to change the base equation by forming alliances with community based political parties. These ‘stepney caste votes’ will add to the cast equation of major political parties and will give them an edge over competition. The prominent regional and national parties are happily joining hands with these niche stepney caste votes party as these major political parties have two key goals one to keep the core vote bank intact and second, to increase the ‘stepney caste votes’ share.
In recent times, we have witnessed that BJP is a collaboration with smaller and niche cast based parties like Apna Dal which is the party of the Kurmis and Suheldev Bhartiya Samaj Party which is considered to be the party of the Rajbhars. It is also widely debated that BJP is working to stitch similar alliances in eastern U.P. with parties like Janvadi Party which is influential among castes such as Lonia, Nonia, Gole-Thakur, Lonia-Chauhan and Dhobhi. Similarly, Samajwadi Party is likely to form alliance with the Rashtriya Lok Dal which is considered to be the party of the Jats.
Dalit and Muslim Vote Bank is the Key: The other key vote bank for all political parties are Dalit and Muslim vote bank. It is important for political parties which has Dalit or Muslim as the core vote bank to keep them united and intact. I believe that winning the vote share of Dalit and Muslim are also important for the parties which don’t see them as core vote bank as division in the vote share will eventually help them. I guess that is why all the political parties are working hard to win or divide the Dalit and Muslim vote bank.
All political parties including BJP and Congress are committed to win the bigger chunk of the Dalit vote bank. We have seen that BJP is keen to woo the Dalit vote bank and they are working hard to come close to Dalits. It also reflects in the various engagement activities in last one year. They celebrated the Jayanti Days of prominent Dalit saints — Ambedkar, Guru Sant Ravidas, and Gadge Baba in all districts of UP. BJP also has eye on the UP’s second largest Dalit sub-caste – Pasis which contributes 16 percent vote share. Moreover, on February 24, BJP commemorates the anniversary of medieval Pasi King Suheldev. The other national party, Congress is also working to re-gain the support of Dalits and has launched Bhim Jyoti yatras to correct its negative image among the dalit community. One another regional party AIMIM, the Hyderabad-based party is working on the Dalit-Muslim equation to make entry into the State – UP.
This election is going to be interesting for Uttar Pradesh as till recently there were three main contestants in UP elections – Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party and Bharatiya Janata Party but now Congress too is emerging as one prominent political party. Let’s evaluate the winning possibility of each major political party.
Samajwadi Party, the largest political party, is losing the ground in Uttar Pradesh. The Akhilesh Yadav’s government has done good work in the state but his good work is overshadowed by the bad Law and order issues. We can easily say that the Akhilesh Yadav is one of the finest Chief Minister in recent times but his work has not been promoted well. It will not be wrong to sat that he failed in PR management.
I have also observed that Akhilesh Yadav has very progressive mindset but probably the cast equation is not in his favour as two big vote bank – Dalits and Muslims are distancing themselves from the party.
In current scenario party can only register a victory if they successfully consolidate Yadav, and Muslim vote bank and manages to win other OBC and Dalit vote bank. If they fail to consolidate Muslim, and Dalit vote bank they have to only pray that Muslim, and Dalit votes get divided between Bahujan Samaj Party and the Congress.
Bahujan Samaj Party is natural alternative to Samajwadi Party in UP. It requires special mention that Mayawati Government also had problem with the law and order. Mayawati has never focused on development but managed to attract less corruption cases and complete support of Dalit vote bank. It will not be wrong to say that she is not as efficient chief minister as Akhilesh Yadav but is very popular among Dalits.
The master equation of Bahujan Samaj Party – Dalits and Brahmins are drifting away from the Mayawati. We have also witnessed that not only vote bank but also many key leaders of the party are moving out. In recent times we have witness that the Dalit vote bank, which is core to the party is shifting towards Bharatiya Janata Party and Congress. No wonder the popularity of Bahujan Samaj Party and Mayawati is depleting, and if it is not checked on priority the winners will be the arch rivals Bharatiya Janata Party and Congress.
Bharatiya Janata Party has loyal vote bank and it enjoys around 25 percent vote share in the state. We can easily say that upper caste which is the core vote bank of the party is intact. The party has successfully managed to attract Dalit vote bank but they need to keep it intact.
Bharatiya Janata Party in the largest state is struggling with the state leadership issue. The party today has many candidates who can be Chief Minister face. if party is serious about the state election they need to announce the Chief Minister face on priority, without which it may lose the election badly. Bharatiya Janata Party also needs to hope and pray that Muslim votes get divided between the Congress and Bahujan Samaj Party and Samajwadi Party fails to consolidate it.
Congress in Uttar Pradesh is gaining ground and is appearing much stronger than the Congress of past. We with certain comfort can say that Muslim vote bank is inclined towards the Congress and they are working hard to win share of Dalit vote bank. The new formed equation will definitely change the political scenario. The Congress is played a masterstroke by announcing Sheila Dikshit as Chief Minister candidate in Uttar Pradesh.
In India, cast politics is the most relevant and potent form of winning election. We still don’t believe in the vote for development and growth. If only 25 percent of voters start casting their vote for development, we will witness a different India.