Tag Archives: Bahujan Samaj Party

How Did UP Decide : Identities, Interests and Politics – Prof Zoya Hasan

Prof Zoya Hasan, Professor Emerita, Jawaharlal Nehru University and Distinguished Faculty, Council for Social Development, New Delhi, will be delivering a Special lecture  in the Democracy Dialogues Series, organised by New Socialist Initiative, at 6 PM, (IST) Sunday, 24 th April, 2022.

She will be speaking on ‘‘How did UP Decide: Identities, Interests and Politics”

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Abstract

How did UP Decide: Identities, Interests and Politics

Uttar Pradesh has just seen an intensely contested assembly election which resulted in a second straight victory for the Bharatiya Janata Party in this politically crucial state. This momentous outcome is the subject of intense debate among analysts and indeed the public at large. There was a premise this time, particularly in UP, that communal polarisation wasn’t working because of acute economic discontent which could trigger electoral change. However, the large-scale discontent over many economic issues, including jobs, did not translate into a decision to vote out the government. Many analysts have attributed BJP’s reelection to welfare measures and free rations to the poor during the lockdown. This cannot explain BJP’s persistent success which extends beyond this election. The welfarist argument ignores the compelling logic of long term communalism and the systematic construction of the Hindu vote in UP politics since the time of the Ramjanmabhoomi movement centered in UP and the communal campaigns in the last five years, its impact is reflected in the election results.This construction of the Hindu vote also trumped the caste-based politics of the regional Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party through a mobilization of upper caste and  non-dominant backward and lower caste communities. Communal polarization and identity politics is the keystone of their strategy and the decisive factor driving electoral choices. 

Some Remarks about Movements

Guest Post by Ravi Sinha

Accountability is foundational to democracy and, ultimately, people are supposed to take those in power to account through democratic processes and mechanisms. But, then, we also know what often happens in democracy. Electoral competition gives rise to ‘technologies’ (often religious, cultural and identity-based) which turn citizens into “Bhakts” (devotees) and storm-troopers (remember Hitler’s “Brownshirts”). The dark side of democracy comes on top more often than the other side. India is witnessing that disaster. Trump was a testimony to the same phenomenon in the United States.

But what about movements? Are they also supposed to be accountable to someone or something? One would presume that movements are accountable to their own missions, values, objectives, arguments and strategies. Is anyone taking the movements to account on that score?

One would imagine that the left movement has been taken sufficiently to account all over the world. So much so that, for most people, there is no longer any need to take it to account. In many eyes, it is finished. Why waste time on something that is finished? And yet, the most curious thing is that the left remains the favourite whipping boy of most other movements and their intellectual luminaries. Here in India a favourite pre-occupation of Dalit intellectuals is to expose the Savarna (upper caste) hegemony over the left movement and many feminists focus on the misogyny of leftists. As if in a survey of the Indian society, leftists have come on top as the most likely and most numerous perpetrators of oppression and violence against Dalits and women! There is no denying that left must be taken to task for all its ills and all its failings. But, should a movement that is often pronounced dead be the prime example when it comes to evaluating movements?

The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) in Uttar Pradesh has declared that it would be the party that would actually build the Ram temple. This party is openly and loudly appealing to Brahmins as a caste to come into its fold. Babasaheb Ambedkar famously talked about annihilation of caste and declared that there is no scope of Dalit liberation under Hinduism. This irony is not confined to BSP. A Dalit is submissively the President under the current dispensation and an ex-Dalit Panther is a minister. All this can be explained away as pragmatic responses to the demands and rigours of democracy. But what about the movement itself? What about Ambedkar’s mission?

The question goes far deeper. Why is it the case that Hindutva has been able to make such inroads into Dalit communities? In what ways and to what degrees the ‘Hindu civilizational mind’ sits within the ‘Dalit cultural mind’? Why is it the case that in Gujarat carnage and elsewhere Dalits have been as much and as willing a part of the Hindutva “Brownshirts” as any other community? Why is it the case that an occasional Dalit leader who emerges as a fiery meteorite in the aftermath of a gruesome atrocity disappears as fast from the social and political horizon and the masters of the electoral machinations remain as much in control of the actual political arena?

One hopes that the theorists of social movements – from Columbia and Harvard Universities to JNU and Osmania – are earnestly grappling with this puzzle. We all know the simple and common-sense answers, but they do not suffice. The puzzle needs a deeper explanation. How long the intellectual prophets of the social movements remain content with celebrating the history and the survival of these movements? How long will Dalit writers remain content with asking the caste lineage of other (Savarna) writers and denouncing them for the surnames they use? How long will they be content with demanding monopoly over literary depiction and theoretical explanation of Dalit life and experience? Real questions and real challenges remain unattended.

(https://www.facebook.com/newsocialistinitiative.nsi/posts/2635781250063345)

[Watch] Marching with the Bhim Army!

 

This October, a colleague and I tracked a group of young Dalits fighting caste atrocities in Uttar Pradesh. The documentary posted above is one part of an extended multimedia project. See the entire project here: https://www.thequint.com/quintlab/ambedkar-dalit-army-fights-caste-atrocities-in-uttar-pradesh/

Thinking through UP election results with numbers: Rahul Verma

Guest post by RAHUL VERMA

Here’s a closer analysis of Uttar Pradesh 2012 election results

In an article the Times of India says the Samajwadi Party’s victory in Uttar Pradesh seems to be an even more impressive sweep than the BSP’s 2007 showing, but it’s actually a less comprehensive domination. According to the same article, the SP did not do well in western UP and Bundelkhand. They do not provide any reason for this.

My analysis of the election results data shows that average number of candidates per assembly constituency and average number of candidates per one lakh electorate in west UP and Bundelkhand, was slightly lower than other regions of the state. In west UP and Bundelkhand, the average number of candidates per one lakh electorate was approximately 8.5 and average number of candidates per assembly constituency was approximately 16. Whereas in other parts of the state average number of candidates per one lakh electors was approximately 9.5 and average number of candidates per assembly constituency was 17. This means that in other regions of the state votes were more divided and thus the SP got an edge in terms of winning seats. In the first-past-the-post (FPTP) system with multi-cornered contests, even such small gaps lead to big swings in terms of seats a party can win. Continue reading Thinking through UP election results with numbers: Rahul Verma

Why Mayawati’s defeat is the BSP’s victory

Satish Chandra Mishra with Mayawati at a rally near Delhi during the Lok Sabha elections in 2009, amongst the last such appearances together

Even before the results came out, the Mayawati cabinet passed a resolution to dissolve the assembly. Never before has an incumbent shown such confidence about losing. Mayawati’s body language during the campaign was proof of the same lack of confidence. Mayawati was going to lose, the Samajwadi Party was in the air. And yet, Mayawati must be relieved right now. She knows that this defeat of hers is, ironically, a victory of the Bahujan Samaj Party and what it stands for. Here’s how.

Continue reading Why Mayawati’s defeat is the BSP’s victory

Seeing UP from Phulpur

Photograph by Akif Ahmad for Fountain Ink magazine

In which I go to Phulpur, once famous as Nehru’s seat, and do walk-the-talk with village-level workers of the four main political parties in Uttar Pradesh. Here. Continue reading Seeing UP from Phulpur

Rahul Gandhi and the Dalit votebank in Uttar Pradesh

This article by me has appeared (.pdf) in the Economic and Political Weekly.

On 14 April this year party general secretary Rahul Gandhi launched the Congress’ biggest campaign to revive itself since 1989. The date was carefully chosen, Ambedkar Jayanti, because he is trying to win over dalit votes in Uttar Pradesh (UP). In 1989 the Congress’ support base in UP was made up of a rainbow coalition of brahmins, Muslims and dalits. The Congress has to woo these communities again to regain power in UP.

The brahmin community took to the now ruling Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) in small numbers in the 2007 Vidhan Sabha election primarily because there was no strong brahmin leader after Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Atal Behari Vajpayee became politically inactive. Brahmins see in Rahul Gandhi a potential “brahmin” leader. The UP Congress president, legislative leader and Youth Congress president in the state are all from the brahmin community.

Muslim support is no longer enchained to the Samajwadi Party (SP) because their bete noire, the BJP, is powerless these days in both the centre and the state. As a result the Muslim vote is being fought for, as a three-way contest between BSP, SP and Congress. BSP head and Chief Minister Mayawati’s stratagem is to therefore change her party’s core support base constructed out of the “brahmin-dalit” alliance into a Muslim-dalit alliance.

The dalits, wooed away en masse by the Kanshi Ram-Mayawati duo of the BSP for years, would be the hardest to win back for the Congress. In fact, a year ago the very idea would have sounded ludicrous. But today, Mayawati’s angry reaction to the Congress’ bid to woo dalits is indication that the Congress may be winning over dalits. How is this happening? Continue reading Rahul Gandhi and the Dalit votebank in Uttar Pradesh

The Liberals and the Bahujans

There was this article in the Indian Express yesterday by Mihir Sharma which basically says liberals don’t have to feel guilty about not supporting Mayawati for PM because Mayawati and the BSP don’t have a “programme”. That desire for a new, revolutionary “programme” sounds Stalinist to me. But more than that, it is revealing about the picture of the good Indian liberal that the author has. The good Indian liberal seems to be completely unaware of the five letter word, Caste; s/he does not appreciate what untouchability means for millions, what the monopoly over the power structure by upper castes means for the ‘majority of the oppressed’ (Bahujan). This good liberal sounds like a foreign-educated babalog who is not very different from someone we have met before.

But wait, I don’t have to continue this rant because in the same morning’s HT, Ashutosh Varshney had what could be an excellent rejoinder to the Mihir Sharma piece: Continue reading The Liberals and the Bahujans

Mayawati’s India

1
(Largely ignored by the media, the BSP recently released a tract that says what the BSP’s India would be like should Mayawati become prime minister. Considering that there is such wide interest and curiosity about the BSP and its politics these days, I am posting the full text of this “appeal”. Disclaimer: I am posting this here for information, debate and discussion and the act of posting this here should not be construed as my endorsement or otherwise of this manifesto-but-not-manifesto. – Shivam Vij)

Jai Bhim !                                                                               Jai Bharat !!

Bahujan Samaj Party

” APPEAL”

For

Lok Sabha General Elections -2009


Brothers and Sisters,  Continue reading Mayawati’s India

Kilvenmani, Karamchedu, Chunduru… Orissa, Pratapgarh?

Reviewing Anand Teltumbde’s book Khairlanji: A Strange and Bitter Crop, Rajesh Ramachandran concludes:

The book however has a serious ideological flaw. It inadvertently falls into the Brahminical trap of theorising class conflicts in terms of positing Dalits against the new Shudra oppressors. Kilvenmani, Karamchedu, Chunduru and other examples are repeated at least seven times in the text to argue that new oppressors are Shudras. If that be, how does Teltumbde explain desperately poor tribals killing and raping Dalits in Kandhamal? The real oppressor is the caste hegemony perpetuated by the core Sangh Parivar constituency of the Brahmin-Bania-Thakur trinity. Is it any surprise that it was Parivar’s Brahminical commentators who first introduced the Dalit-Shudra contradiction to theorise the “failure” of Kanshi Ram’s Bahujan experiment and the split of the unbeatable BSP-Samajwadi Party alliance in UP. Hope the Dalit ‘holocaste’ series doesn’t serve this Hindutva agenda. [Mail Today, 26 October 2008]

Or, indeed, how does one explain atrocities against Dalits by Brahmins?