Maya and Mulayam push UP to the brink on way to vote bank

Debate over the bill has once again left BJP and Congress in an issue paralysis in the rough terrain of UP politics

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Ajay Singh | December 19, 2012


Desperate to retain her support base in the run-up to 2014, Mayawati is leaving no stones unturned to appear as the messiah for the promotion quota bill.
Desperate to retain her support base in the run-up to 2014, Mayawati is leaving no stones unturned to appear as the messiah for the promotion quota bill.

Politics has an uncanny tendency of repeating itself less as farce and more as tragedy. This seems to be the description of the move to provide reservation to the scheduled castes/tribes (SC/ST) for promotion in government jobs.

Behind the rhetoric of all good intentions for this variant of positive discrimination for the underprivileged section of society lie cynical political calculations.
Mayawati, whose full five-year term as the Uttar Pradesh chief minister could at best be remembered for sterile tokenism for Dalits and proliferation of cronies like Ponty Chaddhas, is now desperate to retain her support base. Like a consummate politician, she bargained the price for her support to the Congress on foreign direct investment in multi-brand retail sector and pressured the Manmohan Singh government to come out with the bill for reservation in promotions in government jobs.

As the bill was introduced, Mulayam Singh Yadav found an opportunity to build a unique social coalition against Dalits by consolidating the support of upper castes, OBCs and Muslims. In two decades of politics in the state, this is the first time that traditionally and historically antagonistic social groups will find congruence of their interest against the Dalits. Apparently, Mulayam is no mood to relent on the issue and take a politically correct position of being pro-Dalit. The wrestler-turned-politician knows it the hard way emotion has no place neither in wrestling nor in politics. What matters is the end result.

And the Samajwadi Party supremo has set his eyes on Mission 2014 — his last ditch attempt at becoming the country's top political executive.

Once again, the BJP and the Congress have been practically pipped to the post in the rough terrain of UP politics. Unlike the regional parties guided by self-interest, both the national parties seem to be overwhelmed by the sense of being on the right side of history and politics. Reservation in promotions is projected as an issue through which the repressed sections are asking their genuine space in the power-structure. The conventional leadership of the so-called national parties would not be able to drop the pretense of being politically correct. As a result, they seem to have lost their basic support base.

The massive flash strike by state government employees in Uttar Pradesh is a testimony to the losing relevance of BJP and Congress in the country's biggest state.

The sinister fallout of this cynical politics is a sharp polarisation of the society in UP. This phenomenon is expected to range the most powerful against the most repressed in the state and trigger a kind of social commotion seen in the mandal-mandir phase of politics. What is more disturbing is the fact that this simmering social conflict is being stoked by a kind of politics that is venal in nature.

Given the drift in governance evident in Uttar Pradesh, such portents point to a grim tragedy that will be concomitant to repetitive negative politics.

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