Uttar Pradesh: BJP is silently developing a political counter-culture in the city of Nawabs

In the din of speculation about names of possible UP chief ministers, the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) has silently evolved a political counter-culture which has gone unnoticed.

Perhaps Lucknow, the city of Nawabs known for its Mughlai cuisine, etiquette and a strong coterie culture that degenerated to criminalised governance of late has never witnessed such scale of organisational mobilisation for coronation of a chief minister by any political party in the past. And the irony is that people are still second-guessing about the names of possible chief minister.

In most of the swearing-ins of chief ministers at Lucknow, bureaucracy played the key role in making arrangements for guests and venue. But the situation is quite different this time. BJP’s state unit functionaries have been asked to mobilise cadres and make arrangements for oath-taking on Sunday at the Kanshi Ram Smriti Van, a beautiful park constructed by Mayawati in memory of her mentor.

Representational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

Similarly, the party’s organisational structure has been tasked to make arrangements for holding the legislature party meeting on Saturday where the name of the chief minister will be decided.

Look at the contrast when there was hardly any confusion about the names when either the SP or the BSP was in the seat of power. A coterie of committed bureaucrats and industrialists were seen to be running the show. In the Congress regime, chief ministers were imposed from the high command while state congress leaders were instructed to toe the line. There is hardly an instance when a Congress chief minister was allowed to stay for full term because of the intervention from the high command.

But the political atmosphere in Lucknow is entirely different this time. Party’s state unit functionaries are quite upbeat about the manner in which BJP workers were allowed to have a stake in the formation of the government. “BJP workers and local leaders are intricately evolved in this critical part of government formation,” said a local BJP leader. In a significant departure from the past, the pre-eminence of the organisation is established through a rigorous regime of assignments for party workers to engage in the process of government formation.

But what is particularly significant is the manner in which notorious UP bureaucracy is kept at bay from the process of government formation. The attempts of some of the top officials to reach out to BJP leaders to gauge the mood were spurned in order to put across the massage loud and clear — the bureaucracy would not get its say in political domain.

However, the history of UP bureaucracy is quite chequered. Top bureaucrats in the state have a tendency to hold political brief. In the recent past, there have been a series of criminal cases slapped against top bureaucrats who were jailed on the charges of corruption. Former chief secretary Neera Yadav and her IAS colleagues were jailed in corruption cases. Similarly, the house of another former chief secretary AP Singh was raided by the CBI.

But these cases are perceived to be tip of the iceberg in prevalent corruption of the UP bureaucracy. Of course, the state is known for producing some outstanding civil servants in the past. In sharp contrast to Bihar, where the bureaucracy was made an ineffective tool of the state by the Lalu-Rabri regime, Uttar Pradesh had developed an efficient bureaucracy which was largely apolitical and oriented towards people’s welfare.

But that culture of governance and politics came to an end with the advent of Mulayam-Mayawati and subsequently Akhilesh era. In a highly personalised political setting steeped deeply into corruption, bureaucrats started calling the shots and acting like political stooges. The emergence of the Yadav-Singh syndrome in the state bureaucracy was just a symptom of the deeper malaise that afflicted the governance in the state.

The signals emanating from Lucknow certainly point to evolution of a political counter culture that may rattle the state bureaucracy a bit but will establish the pre-eminence of the party’s organisation. Unlike the past when the party’s organisation was often at loggerheads with those in the government, the new initiative is clearly aimed at synergising the energy of organisation with governance and making the party a constant stake holder in government.


Published Date: Mar 18, 2017 10:33 am | Updated Date: Mar 18, 2017 10:33 am