Mayawati’s decision shows an unwillingness to learn
Many regional parties, like the BSP, have reduced themselves to family enterprisesUpdated: Jun 24, 2019 20:34 IST
Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) supremo, Mayawati, at a meeting on Sunday, decided to appoint her brother, Anand Kumar, as the party’s national vice-president. She also picked her nephew, Akash Anand, who has been assuming an increasing public profile over the past year, as a national coordinator for the party. Ms Mayawati’s decision comes in the wake of a severe drubbing both her party, and the Samajwadi Party (SP), which were in an alliance, received in Uttar Pradesh (UP) in the 2019 national elections. Despite coming together, and representing a vast social alliance on paper, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was able to win 64 of the 80 seats in the state.
This was a moment for Ms Mayawati — as well as other parties from north India, from the SP to the Rashtriya Janata Dal to the Rashtriya Lok Dal, all of whom espouse the cause of social justice — to introspect. All these parties emerged as formations of the marginalised, the oppressed, and the politically unorganised and shook power structures. The BSP of Kanshi Ram came from the Ambedkarite tradition. It represented an alternative vision, and it was supposed to be a party which brought together Dalits and backwards and ensured proportional representation to these communities. The SP came from the Lohiaitie tradition. It mobilised the Other Backward Classes (OBCs) in UP, and stitched together an alliance with Muslims at a time when Hindu majoritarian politics was growing. The RJD in Bihar was inspired by the Jai Prakash Narayan struggle against Emergency, and notwithstanding his grave governance failures, Lalu Prasad Yadav provided a voice to the OBCs and Dalits and security to Muslims in Bihar. The Rashtriya Lok Dal was inspired by the Charan Singh legacy, and aimed to represent farmers across castes and religions in West UP in particular.
But in 2019, all these parties put together have won 15 seats, across the expanse of UP and Bihar, which has 120 seats. The BSP won ten; the SP five; RJD and RLD failed to win a single seat. This can be ascribed to the fact that these have become one-family, one-caste groups. Take the BSP. From being a party of all backwards and Dalits, to being one of Dalits, to being one of a particular Dalit sub caste — the Jatavs — to now becoming one of just Mayawati’s family, the BSP’s trajectory mirrors that of the other parties. The RJD became a Lalu Prasad family enterprise reduced to Yadavs and Muslims; the SP became a Mulayam Singh-Akhilesh Yadav family enterprise reduced to Yadavs and Muslims; the RLD is an Ajit Singh family firm reduced to just a small segment of Jats. Unless these parties are able to go back to their roots, construct wider alliances, give a sense to the communities they represent that they are not just nepotistic outfits, they will not be able to take on the BJP. Mayawati’s decision shows an unwillingness to learn.