Desperate attempts to woo Brahmin voters by Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party in the run-up to the 2022 UP Assembly elections has bewildered respective caste-based vote banks of the two parties. Political pundits are also at their wits’ end to decipher as to what galvanised the two parties to not only desert their core agenda but also their respective core vote banks.
Analysts found it intriguing that the two parties, instead of formulating a comprehensive poll strategy to further consolidate their vote banks and bring to their fold new voters, were engaged in chasing the mirage of ‘Parshuram’ and one of the two promising to build a grand Ram temple in Ayodhya. The SP and BSP had forged an electoral alliance ahead of 1993 UP Assembly elections and their popular slogan was ‘Mile Mulayam Kanshiram, Hawa ho gaye Jai Sri Ram’.
Political analysts rubbished the narrative built by the detractors of the Yogi Adityanath government in Uttar Pradesh that the Brahmin community, particularly in Central UP, was sore with the Bharatiya Janata Party government over the killing of Kanpur gangster Vikas Dubey in a police encounter in July last year.
“Resentment against certain policies of the government and its transformation into vote against the ruling party are two entirely different issues. It is a flawed assumption and over simplification of the political process obtaining at the ground level that Brahmins of Kanpur will vote against the BJP. Vikas Dubey was a dreaded mafia and a terror in the district and most of his victims were none other than Brahmins,” said Kanpur-based political analyst Dr AK Verma.
“The SP and BSP treated the political model of exclusive politics based on caste-based identity as final politics and never contemplated expanding their vote base and making it more inclusive. Their failure to expand created the opportunity for the BJP and it was quick to grab it, which has been proved by the three successive elections results in 2014, 2017 and 2019 and is likely to be repeated in 2022. In fact, it was the BJP which sincerely implemented the slogan of BSP founder Kanshiram demanding relative share in power structure as per population of the caste and communities,” Dr Verma said.
Another analyst opined: “Identity politics is not a bad thing as this politics has immensely contributed in social, political, economic empowerment of the Dalits and OBCs in UP. During the four decades of dominance of the Congress in UP and national politics, there was no place for identity politics at all levels including power, institutional and social structure. Identity politics of SP and BSP was a game changer as voters of these parties became a substantive participant in the democratic politics process rather than a formal participant during the Congress era,” the analyst said.
The political analyst pointed out that even after three decades of existence, the two parties were operating at the fringe level and were yet to enter the mainstream inclusive politics. The best performance of the BSP was 30.1 per cent votes in 2007 UP Assembly polls when the party secured a simple majority by winning 206 seats in a House of 403, while the SP polled 29 per cent in 2012 and won 224 seats.
“Mayawati had made a good beginning in 2007, reaching out to the Brahmins, but did not care to further consolidate that coalition. The present situation makes it amply clear that both Mayawati and Akhilesh Yadav lack the political competence to turn their respective identity politics into inclusive politics,” Dr Verma said.