India is the world’s largest democracy, and general
elections begin later this month. The voting is staggered, and will not finish
till mid-May, but the results will be known almost immediately after. India has
successfully adopted electronic voting machines, which appear to be quite
tamper-proof. The spread out voting allows government personnel to be deployed
sequentially to oversee polling places in different states. In general, the
election process is conducted efficiently and fairly. Of course, campaign
finance involves large sums of money, some of it not transparent, and voters
are bribed and sometimes coerced. But ultimately, democracy works in
results are trusted and accepted.
holds a general election from April 16 to May 13, and the main battle will be
between the BSP, Congress Party-led coalition, known as the United Progressive
Alliance (UPA), and the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) led by the
Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party.
Following are the results of polls carried out by THREE BASKETS STUDY CIRCLE far
1) BSP - 272
1) UPA - 89
2) NDA - 82
3) OTHERS - 100
NOTES: # The counting of votes is on May 16.
# BSP - Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), a party of mainly SC/STs, OBCs, Minorities and the Poorer among the Forward Castes voters led by Mayawati, the chief minister of the
potentially swing state of Uttar Pradesh.
* LEFT FRONT - Communist or leftist parties that supported
the government until last year but now are campaigning as an
alternative to Congress and the BJP.
* SP - Samajwadi Party, an Uttar Pradesh-based party
supporting the Congress-led government from outside but are yet
to announce a poll tie up.BSP
had the best chance of coming to power.
“Gone are the days when we used to play the
role of spoilsport.
Mayawati has the potential to create a political space with a rainbow coalition
of the disadvantaged, “
Mayawati, the new face of national politics
Bahujan Samaj Party supremo and Uttar Pradesh Chief
Minister Mayawati is
campaigning in an unprecedented manner for the forthcoming Lok Sabha
elections. So far she has not campaigned in UP at all. In fact, she has
been seen in Kerala, Gujarat, Orissa and many other states. So is this
an indication that Mayawati is set to take on the stage of national politics?
The question that was being asked on CNN-IBN’s Face The Nation was: Is Mayawati now a genuine national leader?
discuss the issue were CNN-IBN National Affairs Editor Diptosh Majumdar
and the well known SC/ST-Bahujan scholar Kancha Ilaiah.
At the beginning of the debate, 92 per cent of the people who voted in disagreed that Mayawati was indeed a genuine national leader, while only 8 per cent
The discussion started with Mayawati’s
campaign speech in Himachal Pradesh, about the droning quality to it,
where there was little or no mention of caste. Instead there was
mention of development and mention of non-Congress, non-BJP alternative
and the constant harking to the aam janta (common public), aam kariyakarta (working class), and the
It was felt that the coalition of the poor was what Mayawati taking to the national audience.
Diptosh Majumdar agreed by saying, “Exactly, she is looking at the poor as a homogenous whole not as a divided poor. Mayawati is
now bringing her Scheduled caste base into a larger dimension of the poor.
That has been changing since the 2007 elections. She reached out to the
poor Brahmins first and then to the other intermediary castes.”
What is interesting to note, he said, is that Mayawati started her campaigning in other states rather than in Uttar Pradesh.
Majumdar said, “She began in Kerala. And the way she took on Congress and the BJP in the Ahmedabad speech when she took on L K Advani by
saying, ‘what have you done in five years time’ to ‘bring back money
stashed away in the Swiss Banks’ and to the Congress by saying, ‘what
have they done for the poor’, was quite sharp. That day’s rhetoric went
on very well with the Gujarat electorate. She was standing in Modi’s
Gujarat and she was saying I will give you development. Mayawati taking on Modi on March 31 was very interesting.”
doing two things. She has been emphasising the Sarvajan Samaj, the SC/ST-Brahmin coalition and she has been talking about development. She
has got a lot of money from the Planning Commission and has started a
lot of investment projects in UP. She is now quite keen on pushing
herself as a development person.
in her Himachal Pradesh speech she pointed out that she will implement
the projects that she is implementing in Uttar Pradesh. The
developments in Uttar Pradesh are the common thread in all her
speeches. She is giving good governance. She is
taking this message to the rest of the country. People on
the grounds agree to her, will only come to know after the
results are out.”
felt that this was a very interesting trial and error method of growing
that the BSP believed in. He thought that this might even be a Kanshi
Ram’s method of growth.
INCH BY INCH
Mayawati is methodically building her growth brick by brick.
this point, Kancha Ilaiah joined in the debate saying, “She is trying
to build her party at the national level bit-by-bit and in every state
the Bahujan Samaj Party has become a party that changes the electoral
fortunes of other parties. So, she has become a national figure much
more visibly than any other leaders by keeping her parties presence
“The thing to note today is that when so many regional parties and localised parties are emerging,Mayawati alone seems to walk like an elephant in her own right across the country. That is something different,” he added.
growth of the BSP owed itself to some peculiar circumstances. It made for fast
mobilisation in UP because of the caste conflicts that existed in the state,
because of the RPI experience before, because the caste tension was so high,
Kanshi Ram saw it and built upon it and was able to make it into a movement.
Those kind of caste polarization may not exist in any other state.
Ilaiah argued by saying, “ In today’s political scenario there is fragmentation
of polity so much - from state to state, from region to region. The counter
part of this scenario is Mayawati’s slow but steady rise, mobilising SC/STs across the
states where the Congress is strong, the Congress will get the Dalit vote - for
example in Rajasthan. It is in states where the Congress is weak, the BSP can
expect to get SC/ST vote.
Ilaiah, however, maintained that the BSP was that party which was weakening the
Congress state after state. He said, “If you look at Karnataka in the last
election, it was BSP which made Congress lose in several constituencies.
Andhra Pradesh, the emergence of Praja Rajyam Party (PRP) and social justice
and caste becoming a major factor in Andhra politics for the first time, there
is every likelihood that there is going to be a hung Assembly, BSP is also
making a dent in its own way.
seems as if Mayawati is creating another
Congress with an all-caste coalition and emphasising on development.
Majumdar agreed with this analysis saying that the Mayawati method is a
Congress in reverse with the Brahmin not being the ruling class and the SC/STs
being the ruling class.
Let The Elephant (BSP) Rule
Let The Elephant (BSP) Rule
Time for BSP to rule