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Protect votes, not voters?

lucknow Updated: Sep 10, 2013 01:34 IST
Sunita Aron
Akhilesh Yadav

The Akhilesh Yadav government suspended IAS officer Durga Shakti Nagpal for allegedly risking communal trouble by ordering demolition of a mosque wall. But when Muzaffarnagar was simmering since August 27, the government turned a blind eye.

This is how a Facebook post sums up the Samajwadi Party government’s strange — but quite predictable — response to two different crises. It also shows the dilemma that the SP is facing when it comes to using power, and not just bagging votes for power.

Ever since the suspension of Nagpal, Akhilesh and his father and party boss Mulayam Singh Yadav have been accused of taking extra care to protect the Muslim vote bank. But what the Yadavs didn’t notice is that the Hindutva forces are capitalising on the situation.

Demographically western UP has three dominant communities — the Jats, Jatavs and Muslims. The three communities have gone in three directions — the Jatavs to the BSP, the Jats to the Rashtriya Lok Dal and the minorities to the SP.

That’s why, experts say, the sole aim of the SP now is to marginalise the Congress, as it fears that the minority vote may shift towards the Congress in the Lok Sabha elections.

At stake are the SP’s electoral prospects in the 2014 elections, as Mulayam aspires to play a key role at the Centre. What’s more, the perception that Bahujan Samaj Party government under Mayawati was far more effective is gaining ground.

But most alarming is what Meerut MLC Om Prakash Sharma, who represents teachers, says, “The genesis of the trouble (the Muzaffarnagar riots) is the increasing cases of molestation ever since this government came to power and its refusal to register complaints against the goondas. The parties that propagate Hindu nationalism obviously took advantage of this.”

BJP spokesperson and RSS activist Chandra Mohan has a sectarian interpretation on this. “Cases of love jehad are on the rise in western UP wherein young boys are enticing girls into love affairs and then moving away.”

Anil Talan, spokesperson for the Bhartiya Kisan Union, which reportedly called the mahapanchayats with the ‘Bahu bachao, beti bachao (Save daughters and daughters-in-law)’ slogan that triggered the violence, said, “Even now, the government is taking one-sided action by registering cases against our leaders.”

The all-India vice-president of the BJP, Satpal Mullick, a veteran in the area, said, “This was the third peaceful panchayat organised by the people demanding action against the culprits (killers of two boys on August 27). They were angry at the government’s one-sided action, which eventually communalised the issue.”

Political moves are also afoot on the wider plane. Amit Shah, BJP’s campaign committee chief Narendra Modi’s trusted aide and in charge of the party’s UP affairs, has visited major communal hotspots in the state.

The places he has touched are Gorakhpur, from where Mahant Yogi Aditya Nath is pursuing saffron politics across eastern UP, Ayodhya, the nerve centre of the Sangh Parivar’s politics, and western UP, which is burning now. Also, the BJP has asked firebrand leader Varun Gandhi to organise more rallies in the area, the first one scheduled for Agra next week.