Millennium Post

The arithmetic of politics

The state of Uttar Pradesh has always been crucial in deciding the ruling combination at the Centre as it sends as many as 80 members to the lower house. Even before picking up the election fever of the four State Assemblies of Delhi, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh; the two major parties have already started chalking out their election strategy for the next Lok Sabha elections likely to be held in April 2013. Political pundits have been analysing the outcomes of the four assemblies where Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Congress are presently holding the baton in two states each. They have termed the Assembly elections as a ‘semi-final match’ and a trailer of the performance of the political parties in the 16th Lok Sabha elections. Both parties would like to win in all four states in order to generate a favourable wave for the parliamentary elections.

While analysing the last Assembly elections in UP and the recent By-election to Handia Assembly segment, a conclusion can be drawn that the real fight remains between the two regional, personality-based political parties. Further these parties have learnt and even practiced their theories of social engineering and caste-based sentimental exploitations. In the Handia By- elections, both Congress and BJP candidates lost their deposits, in fact, they had been struggling hard to acquire the 4th and 5th position. Keeping aside results of the 15th Lok Sabha elections from the state, the political arithmetic remains unchanged by and large. Moreover, the parties at the state level lack leadership. Leaders like Kalyan Singh, Narayan Dutt Tiwari, V P Singh, and Charan Singh have either become irrelevant or marched away from the scene after completing their life circles.

The Socialist Party and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) both have a ‘mass-leader’ possessing a face to attract commoners and undecided voters to come into their fold. Frankly speaking, the state leadership of the Congress and BJP are deficient of mass appeal and charisma. Both these parties are well aware of the ground realities but still have been aspiring to win the maximum number of seats in the upcoming elections. One cannot say that both parties are dreaming of the moon ala ‘Mungerilal ke Haseen Sapne’. In fact, they are seriously deliberating on the ways and means to capture the figurative ‘supernatural power’ of UP in a run up to the exercise of weaving a family of allies to form a government at the Centre. Both parties aspiring to run the country after the 2014
elections have appointed their managers to further their electoral prospects in UP – the only state to produce the eight prime ministers. Even today the state is regarded as ‘most crucial’, as far as the entry to the threshold of power at the Centre is concerned.  The Congress has entrusted the affairs of the party in UP to a former Lok Sabha member from Sabarkantha, Gujarat, Madhusudan Mistry, whereas the BJP has also nominated a former home minister from Gujarat, Amit Shah for this purpose. It is not merely a coincidence that both managers come from Gujarat and that they are also from the saffron background.

The Congress has deployed Mistry as he proved his mettle in the recent Assembly elections in Karnataka. His political, organisational and managerial acumen along with his competence resulted in the party getting an absolute majority. Till recently Mistry had been involved in short listing the probable Congress candidates for the four state Assemblies. He had been a college lecturer, a trade unionist and an important functionary of an NGO called Disha in Gujarat.

He could not leave an impact during his tenure as a member in the 13th and 14th Lok Sabha as a BJP activist and later deserted the party along with S S Vaghela in 1995. He joined the new outfit called Rashtriya Janta Party formed by Vaghela, an important BJP leader and one of the leaders to lay the foundation of the party in Gujarat. Mistry later joined Congress when Vaghela merged his party with the oldest party of the country. The Congress Vice-President has reposed faith in Mistry and the entire party is looking at him with high hopes.  He will have to at least perform better than Digvijay Singh whom he has replaced.

The BJP has appointed a close confidant of NaMo (Narendra Modi), Amit Shah who had managed the election campaigns of Advani from the Gandhinagar Lok Sabha seat. Shah was inducted in 2003 as a Minister in the Modi government and was holding as many as 10 portfolios. He was then called the youngest home minister in the state. He was a stock broker by profession prior to joining the saffron party. He had been in jail and is presently facing legal action in the case involving the kidnapping and encounter killing of Shahabddin Sheikh by the police. Modi has picked up Shah who has been elected to the Assembly despite his tainted past.

He might have been impressed by the organisational capabilities of Shah but it is now the latter’s turn to give the desired results. Anyhow, both parties – the Congress and BJP  – would have to depend on their traditional stronghold states as UP alone is not going to brighten their future. The BJP of course, has less number of such states than the Congress.

The author is a communication consultant
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