Tag Archives: Uttar Pradesh

Hathras and Beyond: the Upper Caste Counter-Revolution

If the post-Mandal Dalit Bahujan upsurge was an expression of the democratic revolution, the advent of Adityanath’s BJP government constituted the beginning of a counter-revolution that is on the way to consolidating itself in Uttar Pradesh.

Police at the Delhi-UP order, image courtesy The Print

The facts of the case are well known, even though the Yogi Adityanath government in Uttar Pradesh is trying, ever so hard, to produce a different narrative by resorting to the usual Hindutva tactic of assigning it to an international conspiracy. It is typical of the utterly farcical and shoddy nature of the Indian police (and maybe indicates the regime’s over-confidence) that it in the name  of collecting evidence of the conspiracy, it has done a cut-and-paste job from an American site, even forgetting to delete references to ‘NYPD’ and ‘white supremacism’! Incidents of gang-rape and murder have since also happened elsewhere in the state, notably in Balrampur and Bulandshahr. We are witnessing the heinous episode of the Hathras gang rape and murder when the memory of the Unnao rape case in which then BJP leader Kuldeep Sengar was accused, is still fresh in our minds. The victim’s father died in police custody, having already been very badly beaten by Sengar’s brother and their goons, a video of which was proudly circulated on social media. Some other members of the family were killed in an  accident when a truck with a blackened number plate hit their car. In a second rape case, in the very same Unnao, two years later, a 23-year old woman who had been raped and was on the way to a hearing of the rape case, was caught and set ablaze by five men and died soon after that. In the first case, the rape-accused was a ‘popular’ figure – a Rajput leader – in whose support demonstrations were organized after he was arrested. In the second case, the girl was a Lohar (a blacksmith jati) while those who brutalized and killed her were Brahmins.

Are these really coincidences? That the rapist in these ‘paradigmatic’ cases is always an upper caste (Rajput or Brahmin) and the woman always lower caste, or at any rate powerless in class terms? And are these really about sex? The answer to the second question has of course been provided to us by long years of meticulous and painstaking research by feminists the world over: rape is always about power. It is about caste, community, race and gender based power – gender is certainly not unimportant in this particular kind of display of power but sex is not the issue here.

It is the first question that merits closer attention here. The fact that in these type of cases the rapist is almost always an upper caste man is doubly interesting. We already know, in a very generic and commonsense way, that this is how the caste power of the upper-castes and powerful landed interests is asserted over the Dalit Bahujan castes. I am reminded of  some short stories by Mohandas Naimishray, where he talks of this mode of asserting power as a regular practice.  In’ Apna Gaon’, ‘Saali chamari, thakur se zuban ladati hai!’ (you Chamar bitch, you dare to talk back to a Thakur!) is how the Thakur curses the hapless Dalit woman before five Thakur men pounce upon her in a description that is not unlike what we read ever so often in accounts of gang rapes in newspapers. In another story, ‘Reet’ (custom), he describes the age old practice of newly wed Dalit women being forcibly taken away to the Thakur’s place on the  very first night, where they would be raped. In this story, Bulaki’s wife too is taken away by the Thakurs on the first night. 

‘The landlord did what he liked with her, tormenting her body and bruising it. After all, who did he have to fear! In the morning, she was thrown out like joothan [left over food] for her family members.’

The Democratic Revolution

I recount these literary narratives from some of the most poignant fiction that emerged from Dalit literature in Uttar Pradesh in the 1990s, simply in order to underline that naked, untramelled power over the lower castes, is what the Thakurs and other upper castes lost with the democratic revolution of the 1990s. And it was the democratic revolution of the post-Mandal 1990s that made possible the emergence of writings such as Naimishray’s or Om Prakash Valmiki’s widely-acclaimed autobiography, Joothan (1997). It is literature that is not really fictional but in some sense, docu-fiction. Look at this world that Dalit literature of that period presents before us – and then look at what is happening in Yogi Adityanath’s UP today and you will immediately get what is going on there.

For the intervening period in the state saw a major reversal of power relations, especially with the rise of the Bahujan Samaj Party  (BSP) and the Samajwadi Party (SP). The rise of the Dalit Bahujans and of the BSP and SP, especially Mayawati’s stints in power, actually saw the reversal of the power dynamic in the rural areas as well. So powerful was the immediate impact of that upsurge that within a year of the demolition of the Babri Masjid, the BJP lost power in the state, and only won state elections in 2017, three years after coming to power at the centre, in 2014, when the counter-revolution really began. The Congress too wilted in the face of the Dalit Bahujan upsurge and had all but disappeared for almost three decades.

I should perhaps state here, in parenthesis, that the term ‘democratic revolution’ here should not be understood in the Marxist sense of a ‘bourgeois-democratic revolution’ – for there is nothing democratic about the bourgeoisie, nor anything essentially bourgeois about democracy. That was but a specific and momentary historical conjunction of the two in nineteenth century Europe, whereafter democracy was quickly yoked into the service of liberalism that was the ideology of capitalism par excellence. The democratic revolution, rather, is to be understood as the process whereby the demand for and claims to equality are made and rapidly extended to different arenas of social life, leading to ‘the end of a society of a hierarchic and inegalitarian type, ruled by a theological-political logic’. (Laclau and Mouffe, Hegemony and Socialist Strategy). 

In a very important sense, the democratic revolution of the 1990s reconfigured power equations, even if the demand for equality was not specifically raised and theorized in the context of that upsurge. The very ferocity of the upper caste counter-attack, in the form of the anti-Mandal agitation, ensured that the question of power was foregrounded. However, neither ‘self respect’ of yore, nor ‘social justice’ of this period are really demands for equality. Nonetheless, it is true that the demand for reservations in education and employment was no longer made in the language of ‘safeguards’ as Ambedkar had been forced to do, but was being raised in conjunction with Ram Manohar Lohia’s ‘picchda maange sau mein saath‘ (backwards demand 60 percent in employment – that is to say, in proportion to their percentage in the population). To the extent that it did pose a serious challenge to the deeply hierarchic and inegalitarian society, sanctioned by Hindu dharmashastras, it was a profoundly democratic revolution.

The Revolution Derailed

In retrospect, it does seem that the democratic revolution seemed destined to be derailed partly because it could not seize, head-on, the full meaning of its own claims. For a large part, the movement remained fixated on the superficial semiotics of power in purely caste terms. The giant statues built by Mayawati, often derided by critics, are emblematic of this fixation. A more radical claim of equality, in contrast, would have proceeded to the next stage of breaking the economic power of the landlords, Thakurs in particular, simultaneously finding ways of strengthening Dalit economic power.  The call for the formation of a Dalit bourgeoisie, despite the power of its innovativeness, seemed to have remained so trapped within the logic of neoliberalism, that any idea of redistribution was beyond its horizon of vision. The hostility of its chief enunciator, Chandra Bhan Prasad, to Marxism, ensured that it remains simply at the level of a ‘get rich quickly’ mantra for those who are in a position to do so. However, this is not just about Chandra Bhan Prasad but of the entire range of parties that were vehicles of the democratic revolution. All of them remained trapped within the larger world of neoliberal thinking and had practically no economic vision of their own. Having arisen in the era of the collapse of socialism and the larger disenchantment with Marxism and the sense that neoliberalism was the only game in town, all these parties totally shunned the economic question.

There was another reason for the derailment of the revolution that had started becoming apparent soon after the victory of the SP-BSP alliance in UP in 1993. As the panchayat polls drew nearer, it became clear, as Naimishray himself had explained to me once, that the pact between  the two parties was merely political; at the social level there wasn’t any real connection, and the social conflicts had started playing out as soon as the question of local power came up on the agenda. The unfortunate and difficult realization for those who believed in Kanshi Ram’s agenda of Bahujan unity was that it was the powerful among the OBCs who were the immediate and proximate oppressors of the Dalits. This was evident not just in UP but across different states. It was in this context that Mayawati embarked upon her programme of wooing the powerful Brahmins and even Rajputs (the ‘sarvajan’ slogan) – rather than say, the  utterly powerless non-Jatav Dalits and the non-Yadav, non-Kurmi OBCs. The lure of power was also beginning to become its own justification.

The Counter-Revolution

In a sense, the Unnao rape accused, Kuldeep Sengar provides quite a telling illustration of what happens all too often to revolutions. His being a Rajput did not prevent him from retaining his local power by aligning himself, now with the BSP and now the SP, getting elected and serving as MLA of both these parties respectively. Had he turned over a new leaf? Certainly not. If I had the space, I could show how the character of the CPI(M) and the Left Front changed rapidly after accession to power in 1977, as erstwhile enemies joined the new arrangements of power. Sengar was not doing either BSP or SP a favour. He knew that his remaining MLA would be the key to his power in a context when both the BJP and the Congress has ceased to be claimants of power.

That was the interregnum when the erstwhile powerful groups were being forced to negotiate with the parties of the revolution – and these parties mistook it as their strength. They thought they had broken  the back of the powerful upper castes, whereas the latter were simply biding their time and waiting for the right opportunity to present itself before them.

That opportunity came in 2014. Both the SP and BSP had already revealed their feet of clay and in any case, election studies figures show, they had already started losing votes and supporters even among their own social base. All this happened quite sometime before the 2014 election that then became the occasion, with Narendra Modi at the helm, for the upper castes in UP to hit back. Now confident that these parties would not even be able to mop up their own base, the BJP moved rapidly to become the party of counter-revolution. The party’s unprecedented and breathtaking performance in UP in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections set the stage for the recapture of the state in 2017. The decision to make Yogi Adityanath – not a BJP insider – the chief minister was a shocker for many, even among many of those sympathetic to the party. But in retrospect, both the 2014 and 2017 victories were not simply BJP victories; they were part of this upper caste, especially Thakur bid to recapture the state.

What is happening in the state should not therefore be read simply in party terms. Any party in control of the situation, especially one with a Hindutva platform, should have been keen and able to show to the whole world that it acts in favour of the most poor and oppressed Dalits. That would win lasting support from these sections and forever doom the prospects of Dalit parties and organizations. But the BJP under Yogi Adityanath is clearly not going to go that way, for the simple reason that this is the time for the counter-revolution to consolidate itself.

The moral of the story is this: Social and political spaces never lie in a limbo or a state of ‘equilibrium’ of any sort and the minute you relax your guard, the adversary takes the upper hand. Especially if age-old power configurations are disturbed. And leaving battles half-fought can lead to the most disastrous consequences, as we are seeing in UP today.

[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/

Everybody Loves A Good Riot

This here is a 360 video of Friday namaaz at the Rangrezi masjid in Lisad, a village where 13 Muslims were killed in the Muzaffarnagar Riots of 2013.

Play the video, and tilt your phone left, right, up or down to explore the mosque. If you are watching this on your computer, click on the screen and drag your mouse to look around this space.

I shot this video last week in Muzaffarnagar as part of “Everybody Loves A Good Riot” – an immersive multimedia project detailing western Uttar Pradesh’s “riot economy”. The story features 2 more 360 videos like the one above, as well as a text story to mark the 3rd anniversary of the Muzaffarnagar riots. Experience the full story here

Allahabad High Court Order on Government Schools in U.P: Devanik Saha

This is a guest post by Devanik Saha

The judiciary in India can be highly unpredictable. Either it is accused of not doing enough to provide justice to victims or it is hailed for giving landmark judgments. In a recent controversial decision, the Allahabad High Court ordered that all children of government servants and elected representatives in Uttar Pradesh should mandatorily send their wards to government schools. It noted that “Only then would they be serious enough to look into the requirements of these schools and ensure that they are run in good condition”.

While the decision has evoked sharp reactions from UP legislators, it has been fiercely debated in the media fraternity, with mixed responses. The wretched condition of government schools (in every state) in India isn’t a hidden fact. While India has achieved impressive rates of school enrolment – the quality of education and learning outcomes – have been extremely dismal.

An analysis by data journalism portal IndiaSpend revealed that Rs 5,86,085 crore has been spent on primary education in the past 10 years and 80% of the expenditure on education is spent on teachers, but the state of affairs continue to be dreary, which has led to the mushrooming of low income private schools. The number of students enrolled in private schools in UP has risen from 32.2% in 2006 to 52.8% in 2014, according to the Annual Survey Education Report (ASER) by Pratham, an education NGO.

Continue reading Allahabad High Court Order on Government Schools in U.P: Devanik Saha

A Stolen Verdict: Nirmalangshu Mukherji

Guest Post by NIRMALANGSHU MUKHERJI

The Bharatiya Janata Party secured about 19% votes in the general elections of 2009 to win 116 seats in the Parliament. With this most impressive conversion ratio, they had more or less exhausted their possibilities in their ‘safe’ states like Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Karnataka, and the like. They were still 157 seats away from a simple majority in the Loksabha. Even assuming the impressive conversion ratio, they needed at least 26% more of the vote share, that is 45% in all, to form a government.

When the elections for 2014 were announced, it was hard to see where the BJP would get these additional votes from. Moreover, unlike the NDA of 1999-2004, they had rather modest support from other parties with most of the big parties like AIADMK, TMC, JDU, BJD, and the like staying away. Hence, even if we factor in some rise in number of seats in ‘safe’ states, plus handsome gains in Rajasthan, Maharashtra etc., their ability to reach anywhere near the 272+ mark looked rather dim.

Continue reading A Stolen Verdict: Nirmalangshu Mukherji

In the relief camps of Muzaffarnagar and Shamli

This report was prepared by a group of citizens (whose names are given at the end), and released on 20 September 2013.

shamli

A human tragedy unfolds, as the State watches, In the relief camps of Muzaffarnagar and Shamli Districts

A Preliminary Citizens’ Report
September 20, 2013

A. On September 17-18, 2013, an 11 member team consisting of both independent activists as well as activists affiliated with 5 organizations based in Lucknow, Chitrakoot, Muzaffarnagar and Delhi visited relief camps in two affected districts of Muzaffarnagar (3 Relief Camps – Madrasa camp at Bassi Kalan, Madrasa camp at Tawli and camp at Haji Aala’s house, Shahpur) and Shamli (3 Relief Camps – Madrasa camp on Panipat Road in Kairana, Malakpur camp in Kairana, and the Idgah camp in Kandhla). In Shamli District the team also met with senior members of the district administration – the District Magistrate and the Superintendent of Police.

B. This was not conceived of as a fact-finding visit, but was a recce visit to determine the human needs on the ground in the relief camps, and to see how we might plan to help survivors in initiating procedures towards criminal justice (lodging of FIRs and complaints), accessing compensation for death, injury, destruction of property, planning rehabilitation, and also to confirm unverified news reports of sexual violence against women. Continue reading In the relief camps of Muzaffarnagar and Shamli

The BJP’s 2014 bid: A state-wise look and three key states where Modi may be risking party fortunes : Manish Dubey

This is a guest post by MANISH DUBEY: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) lacks effective presence in several States, including large ones such as Andhra Pradesh (AP), Kerala, Tamil Nadu (TN) and West Bengal (WB) and others in the North-east (NE) barring Assam to an extent, and is unlikely to mount a credible challenge in the 168 Lok Sabha (LS) seats these account for.  Its 2014 tally from these States will remain in the lower single digits, as it was in 2004 and 2009. Odisha and Punjab, with 34 LS seats between them, are unlikely to add substantially to the party’s tally either. In Odisha, the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) and the Indian National Congress (INC) are better entrenched. In Punjab, seat sharing arrangements with the locally dominant partner, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD)- Badal, will limit potential (individual) pickings for the party. Pickings are also likely to be limited from Jharkhand (14 LS seats) where besides the INC, a number of regional parties, each with strong local bases and candidates, would be in the fray. Till recently, even Karnataka (28 LS seats) would not have provided much hope but things may look up a trifle with Yeddyurappa reportedly negotiating a return or at least some kind of electoral understanding.

The small States and UTs, i.e., those with 10 LS seats or lesser, account for 40 LS seats and the BJP has a mixed LS election record on these, a record much dependent its performance in Delhi’s 7 LS seats.  Of the 284 LS seats (over half the 543 LS seats) accounted for by all the above mentioned States and UTs, a realistic tally for the BJP would be about 40, similar to that of the LS elections of 2004 (40 LS seats, including 18 from Karnataka) and 2009 (again 40 LS seats, including 19 from Karnataka) with potential gains in some places offset by a reduced tally in Karnataka (Yeddyurappa’s return or even an electoral understanding with him will reverse the misfortune of the recent Assembly elections only partly for the BJP). No Narendra Modi Magic is likely to boost the BJP’s tally here given mainly the state of the party itself.  Continue reading The BJP’s 2014 bid: A state-wise look and three key states where Modi may be risking party fortunes : Manish Dubey

The Uttar Pradesh administration has a prominent role in the burning of Bhadarsa: Rihai Manch

This release was put out by the RIHAI MANCH on 9 November

Jannatunisa, a victim of violence in Bhadarsa

Faizabad 9 November 2012: An investigation team of Rihai Manch visited the Bhadarsa village which was affected by communal violence during Dussehra celebrations. The team found out that the violence was well planned and was executed by communal elements in connivance with the administration. The role of the media in this incident is also suspicious. The team also found that the administration is forcing the affected families to erase any evidence of the incident and they have not even been compensated. No FIR has yet been registered yet. The team has also requested the Sheetla Singh Investigation Commission (constituted by the Press Council of India) to visit the area. Continue reading The Uttar Pradesh administration has a prominent role in the burning of Bhadarsa: Rihai Manch

भदरसा के जलने में प्रशासन की अहम भूमिका: रिहाई मंच

This release in Hindi about recent communal violence in the Bhadarsa area of Faizabad district of Uttar Pradesh comes to us from the RIHAI MANCH. Please help us translate this into English by translating just one paragraph in the comments

Jannatunisa

फैजाबाद, 9 नवम्बर 2012। रिहाई मंच के जांचदल ने दशहरा के दौरान हुयी साम्प्रदायिक हिंसा से प्रभावित भदरसा गांव का दौरा किया। जांच दल ने पाया कि भदरसा में हुयी हिंसा पूरी तरह सुनियोजित थी जिसे साम्प्रदायिक तत्वों और प्रशासन की मिलीभगत से अंजाम दिया गया जिसमें मीडिया की भूमिका भी संदिग्ध थी। जांच दल ने यह भी पाया कि प्रशासन की तरफ से आगजनी से पीडित परिवारों से घटना के साक्ष्य जबरन मिटवाए जा रहे हैं जबकि पीडि़तों को न तो उचित मुआवजा मिला है और ना ही एफआईआर दर्ज किये गये हैं। जांच दल ने प्रेस काउंसिल द्वारा गठित शीतला सिंह जांच आयोग से भी भदरसा जाने की मांग की है। Continue reading भदरसा के जलने में प्रशासन की अहम भूमिका: रिहाई मंच

सत्ता और हिंसा : बद्री नारायण

बद्री नारायण का यह लेख लखनऊ के एक हिंदी अख़बार को दिया गया था पर उन्होंने छापने से मना कर दिया.

शक्ति अपने संस्थागत रुप में सत्ता में तब्दील हो जाती है। सत्ता अपने मूल अर्थ में भय एवं हिंसा पर टिकी होती है। सत्ता का अभ्यांतरिकरण हो या सत्ता का प्रतिरोध, दोनों ही अर्थो में हिंसा उसके सह उत्पादक के रुप में दिखाई पड़ती है। जनतंत्र को एक ऐसी प्रक्रिया के रुप में परिकल्पित किया गया था जो सत्ता को उसके हिंसक पक्ष से मुक्त कराके सेवाभाव के एजेन्सी के रुप में सक्रिय रखे। यह माना जा रहा था कि जनतंत्र सत्ता को रेशनालाइज कर उसे सेवा-भावि प्रशासकीय स्वरुप में तब्दील कर देती है। यह काफी कुछ हुआ भी किन्तु अपने कार्य-प्रक्रिया में इस जनतांत्रिक समय में भी सत्ता हिंसा को उत्पादित करते रहने वाली शक्तिस्रोत के रुप में सामने आई है। सत्ता पहले अपने भीतर अपने ही कारणो से क्राइसिस को जन्म देती है, फिर उससे उबरने के लिए हिंसा रचती है। बंगाल, झारखण्ड, आन्ध्र के जंगलों में पहले तो बाजार शासित विकास के तहत आदिवासी जीवन के संसाधनों पर कब्जा कर उन्हे बहुराष्ट्रीय कम्पनियों को बेचना, फिर उसके विरोध में आदिवासी जनता का नक्सलवादी विचारों एवं नेतृत्व में हिंसक प्रतिरोध का बढ़ते जाना, पुनः उसे दबाने के लिए राज्य द्वारा की जाने वाली ज्यादा आक्रामक एवं खुंखार हिंसा को इसी रुप में देखा जा सकता है। Continue reading सत्ता और हिंसा : बद्री नारायण

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

A Flawed Democracy – The Case for Proportional Representation in India: Srinivasan Ramani

Guest post by SRINIVASAN RAMANI

Times of India graphic

For all the chest thumping and tomtoming about the Samajwadi Party’s emphatic victory – winning 224 seats out of 403 in the UP Assembly elections – a true reflection of the mandate is to be seen in the individual vote shares of the four main (“effective”) parties in the elections (the Bahujan Samaj Party – Bhartiya Janata Party, the Samajwadi Party, and the Congress – in alliance with the Rashtriya Lok Dal). Data from the Election Commission of India website shows the following in terms of vote shares:

Continue reading A Flawed Democracy – The Case for Proportional Representation in India: Srinivasan Ramani

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

Some thoughts on the “hawa” in Indian elections

‘Public transmitter’ nahi ban sakey Mulayam aur Mayawati. (Mulayam and Mayawati could not become public transmitters.)

In the Hindi original of that line, the phrase public transmitter is in single quotes only because they are English words in a Hindi paper. The entire sentence is not in quotes. A sentence like this, if it were the title of a text, would count as an expression of opinion. And yet, it was a news headline in the Varanasi edition of UP’s largest selling daily, Dainik Jagran. In case you could not guess who it was trying to help, there was the photo of Rahul Gandhi below the headline. This was the lead story. Continue reading Some thoughts on the “hawa” in Indian elections

Why Rahul Gandhi’s Congress flopped in Uttar Pradesh

In 2008 if you had said the Congress could revive in Uttar Pradesh you would have been laughed at. No party structure or caste base, you would have been told. In 2009, Rahul Gandhi earned perhaps the first laurel of his political career by proving critics wrong. He beat conventional wisdom by saying no to allying with the Samajwadi Party and the Congress won just 22 of 406 seats. Since then, Congress revival in UP has been taken for granted in many corners. Some pundits were predicting as many as 100 seats for the Congress this election. This speculation had a good basis: Rahul Gandhi always left crowds happy. And he flew on a helicopter addressing as many as 4 rallies a day. If you spoke to the people who attended his rallies, you’d be surprised by the amount of goodwill he created for himself. The rise in vote share despite the poor seat performance is proof for the rising appreciation of the Congress’ efforts to regain relevance in state politics. But then, what went wrong? Continue reading Why Rahul Gandhi’s Congress flopped in Uttar Pradesh

मायावती जी के मुख्यमंत्रित्व काल का एक संक्षिप्त विवरण: राम कुमार

This guest post by RAM KUMAR is a review of five years of Mayawati’s administration in Uttar Pradesh. An English translation has appeared in Fountain Ink magazine, here.

मुख्यमंत्री मायावती जी को 2007 में मिला स्पष्ट जनादेश  महज मुलायम सिंह यादव के खिलाफ एन्टी-इनकमवंसी फैक्टर ही नहीं था, बलिक अराजकता और गुंडागर्दी के खिलाफ भी जनादेश  था। सरकार का खुले रूप से एन्टी-दलित चरित्र और प्रदेश  के अन्दर सरकार  के एन्टी ब्राहम्ण टोन के चलते प्रदेश  में मुलायम सिंह की सरकार के खिलाफ दलित अति पिछड़े हो गये थे। मुलायम सिंह के  कल्याण सिंह प्रेम की वजह से माइनारिटी (अल्पसंख्यक) भी  मुलायम से नाराज हो  गए। बहन जी ने सर्वजन समाज का नारा देकर   विक्षुब्द तबकों को समेटा। सभी को समेटने में रणनीति के तहत अपना नारा बदल “हाथी नहीं गणेष है ब्रम्हा, विष्णु, महेष है” का नारा लगाया। सर्वजन  फार्मूला और मुलायम के खिलाफ गुस्सा बहन जी को पूर्ण बहुमत से सत्ता में लेकर के आया।

बहन जी एक  सशक्त शासनकर्ता के रूप में जानी जाती थीं। इस बार भी बहन जी सत्ता में आयींऔर  सत्ता में आते ही तुरन्त उन्होनें  घोषणा की कि अराजकता और गुडागर्दी नहीं चलेगी, कानून का राज्य चलेगा। इसको  सिद्ध करने के लिये उन्होंने सबसे पहले जो राजनेता अपने साथ बहुत सारे शस्त्रधारियों को लेकर चलते थे,  उन पर प्रतिबंध  लगाया और एलान किया कि  कोई भी नेता सार्वजनिक स्थल पर तीन हथियार से  ज्यादा में दिखे तो उनके खिलाफ कार्यवाही की जायेगी। यही नहीं अपनी पार्टी के एम. पी. रमाकान्त यादव जो आजमगढ़ से हैं, एक गरीब मुसिलम के मकान पर जमीन कबजाने के चक्कर में जबरदस्ती बुलडोजर चलवाया इसकी खबर जब बहन जी को लगी उन्होंने रमाकान्त यादव को अपने मुख्यमंत्री आवास पर मिलने के लिये बुलाया और वहीं से उनको गिरफ्तार करवाया। यह संदेश  देने की कोशिशकी  कि सत्ताधारी दल के हों या विपक्षी पाटी के हों, कानून सबके लिये समान है। अपनी ही सरकार के खाधमंत्री और विधायक आनन्द सेन को एक महिला के अपहरण केस  में बर्खास्त कर जेल भिजवाया और अभी तक 26 प्रभावशाली नेता एवं मंत्रियों को पार्टी के बाहर का रास्ता दिखा चुकी हैं। पिछली सरकार में हुयी 17,868 पुलिस जवानों की भर्ती में हुयी धांधली के चलते भर्ती  प्रक्रिया को निरस्त किया और 25 आई .पी.एस. अधिकारियों को भी सस्पेन्ड किया।

Continue reading मायावती जी के मुख्यमंत्रित्व काल का एक संक्षिप्त विवरण: राम कुमार

An Election in Sarvajan Samaj

This photograph was taken by Salman Usmani in Ganguali village in Unnao near Lucknow, in early January. On the left is Prabhat Pandey and on the right, Ram Khilawan. Pandey is a Brahmin and Khilawan a Dalit. They’re the BSP’s men in this village, responsible for urging Brahmins and Dalits to vote for the BSP candidate, also a Brahmin. The photo was taken when I asked them to pose together. This is all the ‘brotherhood’ they could show before the camera.

Here’s my story on UP elections, seen through the prism of Brahmins and Dalits. Continue reading An Election in Sarvajan Samaj

The untold stories of a political process

AP Photo by Altaf Qadri

Less than a month before the 2009 Lok Sabha elections, the wedding of a top Uttar Pradesh bureaucrat’s daughter at the Taj Hotel in Lucknow presented senior journalists invited from Delhi with an opportunity to interact with the state’s leading bureaucrats—who are, in Chief Minister Mayawati’s reign, more important than politicians. For a select few celebrity editors, there was even a rare durbar with Mayawati herself, who carefully arrived after the governor had left, presented flowers to the newly married, and proceeded to a barricaded enclosure to meet India’s opinionmakers. I don’t know what the conversation was like, but I saw the journalists’ lips move more than hers.

After the meeting was over, I asked one celebrity TV anchor what he thought the election results were going to look like. He said the Mayawati-led Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) was very strong, and predicted she could win 50 of the 80 seats the party was contesting. The Delhi media’s awe of Mayawati was at a historic peak; they had taken her prime ministerial ambitions seriously. I told this studio journalist that the buzz in Lucknow was that the Congress could spring a surprise. “No chance,” he said. “They don’t have any organisation. Azharuddin is my friend and he called me to say he needs my help. Even a celebrity like Azharuddin is going to lose!” Read More…

Godhra, arson, terrorism, stone-pelting, Dalits and Muslims, and other such issues in village Lehna

A fact-finding report released today by PUCL Uttar Pradesh

Fact Finding Report on the murder of MNREGA and labour activist Shri Hari Lal, Village Lehna, Block Manjhanpur, District Kaushambhi on 15.08.2010

A fact finding committee to investigate the incident was formed with the following: members

  1. Mr. S.R.Darapuri, Retired IPS, Vice President UP PUCL.
  2. Mrs. Arundhuti Dhuru, Consultant to Commissioner Right To Food Committee of Supreme Court.
  3. Mr. Ram Kumar, Vice President UP PUCL.
  4. Mr. Jawed Rasool, Dyanmic Action Group.
  5. Dr. Nisha Srivastav, Professor  (Deptt. of Economics ), Allahabad University .
  6. Mr. Rajni Kant Rai, HRLN, Allahabad .
  7. Mrs. Bindu Singh, Convener UP Right To Food Campaign .
  8. Mr. Sanjay Singh, convenor, Parmarth, Oriye, Jalaun

The committee visited the site of incident in village Lehna  on 21.08.10 .The fact finding committee met the family members of the late Hari Lal, other residents of the village, and workers and officials of Voice of People’s (VOP). The committee also met the district magistrate and spoke to the superintendent of police. The following facts about the incidents came to light through this enquiry:

Background to the Incident

The main issue behind this incident was of MNREGA and payment of labour wages. According to the available evidence, a pond was dug in the village by 250 labourers from the panchayat quota of MNREGA in April, May and June 2007. However, the gram pradhan, Tirath (Dhobi), did not pay the labourers full wages. The gram pradhan is a mere puppet in the hands of a former gram pradhan, Bassan, and his son Fateh and a criminal named Nakkan. Continue reading Godhra, arson, terrorism, stone-pelting, Dalits and Muslims, and other such issues in village Lehna

Murder of an activist

This report comes from KK ROY

MNREGA Fighter and leader of Voice of People (VOP) Hari Lal of District Kaushambi, U.P. has been killed in broad day light at 12.00 Noon in his village Lahna, Block Manjhanpur district Kaushambi on independence day, 15 August 2010 at the instance of the corrupt Gram Pradhan Tirath Lal by the contract killers. Thousands of members of the VOP and other organisation gathered in the village and made militant protest, burnt the houses of the killer. A heavy contingent of armed police lead by District Magistrate, Superintendent of Police, Circle Officers and SHOs of various police stations entered into the village and let loose the reign of terror over the villagers, women and children. Two FIRs has been lodged against the leaders and members of the VOP including the common villagers. The leader of VOP Parvez Rizvi has been named in both the FIRs. One FIR has been lodged u/s 307, 322, 334, 352, 147, 148, 149 IPC and 7 Criminal Amendment Act in which 5 persons have been named and the second FIR has been lodged u/s 353, 336, 506, 427, 352, 436, 392, 147, 148, 149 IPC and 7 Criminal Amendment Act. Both the FIRs have been lodged by police andin both the FIRs VOP leader Parvez Rizvi has been named. Continue reading Murder of an activist