Change has been the only constant in Uttar Pradesh politics over the years, more so over the last two decades.
No single party has been voted back to power in the state ever since the era of rainbow alliances began in 1989.
Since then, only non-Congress governments have been at the helm of affairs here. While there may be no single dominant reason for the trend, a strong anti-incumbency factor may have prompted the electorate to try new political combinations, sometimes after spells of President’s rule.
Turbulence in the 1960s
A close scrutiny of Uttar Pradesh’s political journey reveals a period of brief turbulence began in the state in 1967 when Chaudhary Charan Singh crossed the floor and became the chief minister.
1989: A landmark year
Barring the Janata Party regime from 1977 to 1980 (and the turbulent period in the late 1960s), the state was mostly under the Congress rule before 1989, a watershed year which saw the ND Tiwari government being voted out and Mulayam Singh Yadav being installed as the Janata Dal chief minister. Within a year, the party split and Yadav joined Chandra Shekhar’s Janata Dal (Socialist) following the VP Singh government’s fall at the Centre. Propped up by the Congress, Yadav’s government survived but only briefly. Soon, the Congress pulled the plug and the state went to the polls.
Saffron surges, then wilts
With a strong anti-incumbency factor working against Mulayam following his utterances on the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid issue, the electorate voted the Bharatiya Janata Party to power in the 1991 assembly elections and Kalyan Singh took charge as chief minister. Demolition of the disputed structure in 1992 led to imposition of President’s rule in the state.
Friends turn foes, Maya to the fore
Later, in 1993, the Samajwadi Party-Bahujan Samaj Party alliance became the voters’ choice with Mulayam assuming the office of chief minister for the second time. Relations between the two allies soured. Matters came to a head with the state guesthouse incidents of June 2, 1995 leading to great distrust between the SP and the BSP. Mayawati was installed as the state chief minister for the first time with the Bharatiya Janata Party’s support.
In 1996, the BSP entered into a pre-poll alliance with the Congress. Following a spell of President’s rule after the polls, the BSP struck a power-sharing deal with the BJP. Under the arrangement, each partner would have their own chief minister for six months by rotation. Mayawati began her second tenure as chief minister on March 21, 1997. She resigned from the CM’s post after six months. Though Kalyan Singh took over, the transition was not smooth.
The BSP-BJP alliance came unstuck. But the BJP held on to power, courtesy defections. To accommodate the turncoats, a jumbo cabinet had to be sworn in. Kalyan Singh held the reins till 1999 when the BJP fell back on Ram Prakash Gupta. A year later, he was replaced by Rajnath Singh under whose leadership the party faced the 2002 assembly polls. When the results came, its numbers were greatly reduced. With no party winning a majority, there was another brief spell of President’s rule which ended when the BSP and the BJP joined hands again. Mayawati assumed office as chief minister for the third time and the BJP was a junior partner in her government. By 2003, the allies fell out and the government fell, paving the way for Yadav’s third stint as CM on August 29, 2003. He remained in power till May 2007.
Five years of stability but will it last
In 2007, the BSP won a clear majority and Mayawati was back as the chief minister for her fourth term. This gave the state its first single-party government in 18 years. Now that the state assembly elections are less than a month away, will the anti-incumbency factor work as strongly against Mayawati in 2012 as it did against her predecessor in 2007? Opinion is divided among the political observers on the issue.
Senior political analyst and former state Congress spokesman Dr Ramesh Dixit said the anti-incumbency factor was bound to bring about a change on the political horizon in UP. Dixit said young voters would play a decisive role if the parties were able to make development a political issue.
On the other hand, Professor SK Diwedi of Lucknow University said he did not see a strong anti-incumbency factor against the BSP. Though a section of voters may like to see a change in the post-poll scenario, the BSP would not be affected to a large extent in view of its strong presence across the state, he added.
A few turning points
1967: Chaudhary Charan Singh crosses the floor. Leaving the Congress, he forms his own party and becomes chief minister
1971: Chief minister TN Singh loses the Maniram assembly seat to Ram Krishna Diwedi, who is now the chairman of the Uttar Pradesh Congress disciplinary committee
1975: Emergency imposed
1977: Janata Party government installed.
1980: Congress returns to power
1984: Prime Minister Indira Gandhi assassinated.
1989: Mulayam Singh Yadav becomes chief minister of Janata Dal government for the first time
1991: Bharatiya Janata Party government installed riding on the support for Ram temple issue
1992: Disputed Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid structure demolished
1993: Samajwadi Party-Bahujan Samaj Party alliance wins the assembly elections
1995: BSP pulls out of alliance with SP, and Mayawati becomes state chief minister for the first time
1996: BSP enters into pre-poll alliance with the Congress
1997: BSP reaches understanding with the BJP for rotating chief minister’s post between the two parties every six months. Mayawati becomes CM again. Kalyan Singh takes over after six months
1999: Ram Prakash Gupta replaces Kalyan Singh
2000: The CM’s mantle falls on Rajnath Singh.
2002: No party wins majority. After a brief spell of President’s rule, BSP-BJP join hands.
2003: BSP-BJP alliance breaks. SP-led government installed.
2007: BSP gets a clear majority. Mayawati becomes CM for the fourth term.