Divided they stand together: BJP, SP two ends of same socio-religious divide

It is not for nothing that Amit Shah – pegged as man-of-the-match by Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his stellar role in winning 71 of the 80 seats from Uttar Pradesh in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections – has chosen the Samajwadi Party as BJP's main rival in the upcoming UP Assembly elections.

In life, you don't get to choose your rival, just as you don’t choose your own boss or your parents. It’s destiny, or circumstances in Darwinian language, that decide everything for you.

BJP president Amit Shah. Reuters

BJP president Amit Shah. Reuters

You can, at best, do your own best. And that’s all. Like it or not, it’s Mayawati’s BSP that is seen galloping ahead of others in an otherwise fluid scenario in UP at the moment.

There are compelling reasons why Amit Shah has made this statement deliberately. First and foremost, the BJP – which is essentially a right-wing Hindu outfit and Maulana Mulayam’s SP – which owes its sustenance primarily to the Muslim-Yadav vote bank, happen to be the two ends of the same pole in a socio-religious divide.

To use the Marxist lexicon, they have continuously been locked in a thesis/anti-thesis kind of relationship for over 25 years. If one of the two rises, the other one falls. And if somebody else gains ascendancy in his or her quest for a synthesis, both of them fall together!

To understand all this even better, you need to look back into history. And once you do this, you will find that both the BJP and the SP registered meteoric rises only in the wake of the Ram Janmabhoomi Movement in the late 1980s.

Mulayam Singh became chief minister for the first time in 1989. Before this, he had always lived under the shadow of the likes of Choudhary Charan Singh, Chandrashekhar, VP Singh, Hemvati Nandan Bahuguna, and so on.

Even after the VP Singh government fell at the Centre – thanks to the withdrawal of support by the BJP – Mulayam Singh continued on as chief minister in Lucknow with the support of Chandrashekhar’s Janata Dal. And when Chandrashekhar’s government fell in New Delhi, general elections were held. The BJP replaced the SP and Kalyan Singh became chief minister at the peak of the Mandir Movement in 1991.

In the post-Babri mosque demolition era, the SP came back to power with the help of the BSP in 1993. Mulayam Singh’s second stint as chief minister lasted till June, 1995 when his ally, the BSP, joined hands with the BJP to form a government together.

The game of musical chairs went on with new alliances and in the years that followed BJP’s Kalyan Singh, Ram Prasad Gupta and Rajnath Singh adorned the chief minister’s chair for shorter periods with the support of allies.

Thereafter, following a fluid post election scenario in 2002, the BJP and BSP again joined hands to form a government under Mayawati. But the BJP pulled the rug from under the feet of Mayawati, paving the way for Mulayam to become chief minister for the third time in 2003.

It’s significant that both the SP and the BJP fared badly in the 2007 Assembly elections. Mayawati had come on top by then and she formed a government on her own for full five years after a long time. The 2012 elections saw the SP replacing the BJP. And the point to be noted here is that the Modi wave swept across UP, when the SP ruled Lucknow.

You can’t understand the riddle of the BJP getting as many as 71 of the total 80 Lok Sabha seats from UP under the shrewd stewardship of Amit Shah in 2014, unless you examine the situation that prevailed in North India in the aftermath of the Muzaffarnagar communal riots of 2013.

It was obvious that a huge Hindu backlash had swept across UP and Mulayam Singh’s party, which was at the helm of affairs in Lucknow, couldn’t or didn’t as is alleged, do much to lighten the surcharged atmosphere.

At least 62 people from both the communities lost their lives and hundreds of others were injured in what was described as “the worst communal flare-up in UP’s recent history”. The army had to be called in. The scars of this untoward incident are still fresh in public memory, particularly in western UP.

You can now see why the BJP chose to launch its poll campaign from Saharanpur – a place that is quite close to Muzaffarnagar. It was hardly surprising that the rally, which was addressed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Rajnath Singh, was a massive success.

This rally apart, RSS supremo Mohan Bhagwat shall be holding a major camp in Mulayam Singh’s political bastion in Etawah later this month. And after this, the BJP will hold its national executive meeting in Allahabad next month. Everything has been planned meticulously.

Meanwhile, the see-saw game between the BJP and the SP goes on. The otherwise hostile statements and counter-statements that you hear from the players are to be taken with a pinch of salt. Indeed.


Updated Date: May 27, 2016 19:10 PM

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