The Elephant Riders

The recently held Assembly elections in UP, India’s most populous state evokes mixed emotions. There are reasons for elations and enough room for concern. On the one hand, the clear majority for Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) means that at least this time the government could last for the full term of 5 years, a rarity these days owing to coalitions or power sharing. However, given the uncertainties of Indian politics, this aspiration could easily turn to blind optimism. The reason being, once elected, the parties disregard their manifesto and ideologies and often infer the mandate as per their convenience. Indeed, it is a momentous victory for a party representative of dalits, although this time, BSP supremo Mayawati, has broadened her appeal to include candidates from upper castes and Muslims. The greatest significance of this victory, however, should be labelled as victory of secularism. The fact that a secular party got clear mandate suggest that one cannot fool the electorate anymore with false propaganda and divisive politics even in the Hindu heartland of UP. However, more than the battle of ideologies, the mandate for a single party may have been a simple consequence of the yearning for the speedy development - minus corruption- in this region.

Once the euphoria of a trendsetting election victory wanes, there will surely be wrangling and haggling for important portfolios within BSP. And given that the party has many a non dalit candidates, other parties who are preying for power could entice them with the lure of power and position. Given the record of previous administrations in UP it is not a far fetched idea. Ms. Mayawati herself would be too aware of this fact to wield absolute power and cause defection of her party men. Even if this Government survives all the trappings of the opposition, one hopes that the administration works towards public development and do not succumb to corruption. After all it wasn’t that long back when Mayawati celebrated her birthday with all pomp back in 2003, probably at the expense of tax payer. Now that the elephant- the symbol of BSP- is back in power, one hopes it doesn’t fatten up and damage its short sight and renowned memory.

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