Tough Road Ahead…
The equation that emerged from the electronic voting machines post-assembly elections in the state with the highest population was not very far from the predictions that political gurus were making. The surprising element, if any, was probably 224 seats for Samajwadi Party. With a comfortable majority to the cycle brigade, the electorate not only taught a lesson to the political leaders of other parties in the fray but also denied being taken for granted. With corruption charges levelled against various ministers in Mayawati government, if the government was dreaming of coming back to power yet again, it really took the electorate for granted. But the public is much smarter than one would think it to be.
With the ground realities in Uttar Pradesh so very different and complex as compared to the situations in other states where the elections were being fought, nobody could guarantee this kind of verdict. Not even Samajwadis. People chose Samajwadi Party as they probably saw it to be the only potential entity that could dethrone Mayawati. Riding on the bicycle the Samajwadi Party emerged as the largest party and would claim the top job. But the real test would be the way it unfolds the process of governance. The very party was thrown out of power on issues of corruption and appalling law and order situation in the state. If the electorate has chosen Samajwadi Party this time, the party has to be very cautious in ensuring that anti-social elements are under control.
The new government will have to learn lessons from its own experience and from the experience of others too—law and order lesson from within and the lesson on corruption from the Mayawati government. Fingers were raised at Akhilesh Yadav (the new face of the party) few hours after the verdict was put up on notice board. A seven-year-old boy was shot dead as Lohiya army was in celebration mode. Journalists were beaten up and were locked in for hours even before the party members could take the oath.
The new face of Samajwadi Party Akhilesh Yadav has so far been able to attract the confidence of the people that he would change the image of the party by keeping politicians such as DP Yadav away from the power. But the task before Yadav junior is of tall order as he would have to control his own family members (his uncles and cousins) when it comes to maintaining law and order well.
Corruption, bleak job scenario, illiteracy and poor infrastructure are few challenges that warrant government’s immediate attention. At a time when country is growing at over 6 per cent, the growth in the state stands around 2 per cent. If the new government has to just implement what it promised to the people before elections, it would have to spend one lakh crore rupees. After Samajwadi Party announced to offer unemployment stipend, 7000 people registered themselves on employment exchange in a single day. On average 15-20 people register on exchanges. If the government has to roll out schemes it announced to win the election, the big question here is where would the funds come from? The exchequer has been looted by subsequent governments and would not be able to carry even the part burden of announcements. To prove that the promises were not just glib talk, SP will have to at least implement what it promised.
Setback for Congress
Battery of leaders that was trying to woo voters in the cow belt under Gandhi scion Rahul would have hugely disappointed at the results. At one point in time, the party was full with confidence that it would play the role of kingmaker in the state, if it could not muster as many seats to claim the throne of Chief Minister in the state.
Though post-Mumbai debacle, Congress think tank might have taken Anna movement as dead. It did harm one single party—Congress. After the results of assemble elections in five states Anna Hazare said that the issue of corruption did impact election results. He said that public could make out who would benefit from weak Lokpal. And why is government silent on black money stashed way in foreign banks and whose money is that?
The poor show in state elections is a matter of concern to Congress in long run as well. It will now have to face the music at various fronts—whether it be nominating candidates for President, Vice President posts or getting bills cleared going forward. After Mamata Banerjee went on to lead West Bengal, she has been creating problems for UPA. Emergence of new set of problem creators would give the Congress sleepless nights.
Lesson for BJP
Even Uma Bharti could not do the wonder for the saffron party. The elections were seen as an opportunity to place itself as an opportune option against Mayawati’s Bahujan Samajwadi Party, which was under flack on several accounts—whether it be relentless expenditure on statues or corruption charges against several ministers in Mayawati government. The BSP chief minister herself provided the opposition with strong agenda as she dropped about 20 ministers from the cabinet just before the elections were announced.
Though the saffron party accepted that it had missed a great opportunity, but it still needs time to find out what went wrong. People do feel that infighting in the party also took a toll on the results.
Party claims that it works in the interests of Dalits. Now consider this. On 82 reserved seats (for SC) Samajwadi Party candidates won 53. BSP will now have to assess as to how its own vote bank drifted away from the party. The solid foundation is not so solid anymore. The loss of UP election has hit BSP hardest. Other parties at least have some states where they are in power. BSP already on the radar of Centre should be ready to face the music from all quarters. Though Akhilesh Yadav’s statement that his party would not work with vengeance, should provide some solace to the lady who loves her own statues more than good governance.
By A Sharma