Caste factor alone will not win elections

  • Hindustan Times
  • Updated: May 22, 2014 23:26 IST

Samajwadi Party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav’s plaintive remark “Who will I sit with in Parliament?” sums up the sense of deprivation, indeed desolation, that the leader feels at the near total rout of his party in Uttar Pradesh.

He has predictably lashed out at his own son and chief minister Akhilesh Yadav for his poor performance, which impacted the general elections.

On his part, the CM has sacked 36 ministers. The BSP too is in stock-taking mode with leader Mayawati dissolving all party committees.

These were the two parties which had ruled the politically crucial state of Uttar Pradesh for years, edging out the Congress and the BJP.

In many ways, they were the kingmakers at the Centre and their tantrums were feared by the government of the day. But both Behenji and Netaji, as they like to be known, have only themselves to blame.

Ms Mayawati played the Dalit card for all it was worth for years. But what she seemed to have failed to realise is that the Dalits are not impervious to their social milieu and perhaps did not want the disadvantaged tag to stick in perpetuity.

They seem to have voted for more employment opportunities and development rather than nurse the victim mentality.

During her tenure too, Ms Mayawati went on a statue-building spree in the hope that these would be seen as symbols of pride by her flock.

However, they were seen more as a wasteful indulgence than a productive contribution to the state. Mr Yadav too made the cardinal blunder of trying to run the state with the help of his cronies rather than leave his son to do the job.

The appalling callousness after the Muzaffarnagar riots certainly alienated not just the Muslims but many others as well.

The sight of MLAs going on a jolly and a jaunt when people were dying in refugee camps did not go unpunished during these elections.

In the case of both parties, the message from these elections is that they need a drastic change in strategy if they are to rebuild themselves. People are no longer willing to listen to tired old shibboleths or tolerate the sort of excesses that both these leaders are guilty of.

Caste is still a factor in Uttar Pradesh, but this alone will not win elections.

The BJP used the caste card with add-ons and that is what carried the day for it. The secular versus communal debate too is one of diminishing returns.

Both parties need to effect a paradigm shift in their thinking in the new perform or perish scenario. The choice before the two is clear.

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