As The Elections Arriving In Uttar Pradesh, just few months are left for the preparation. No big Political party is in the mood to chuck the chance to grab the chair. Samajwadi Party had declared its first list of candidates, exactly a year ahead of polls. These two ruling parties (BJP in central and SP in UP) usually compete for media exposure. the Bahujan Samaj Party started with the usual procedure under the media radar, covering the ground to mobilise its troops and amalgamate its core support base among the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes to have a strong hold once again.The gestures made and issues they are linked with are the hints of their electoral strategies and can be seen as the cashing the vote banks of caste or community.But the questions for these three major troops of UP will remain the same –
Will The BSP Hold On To Its SC Support? Will The BJP Be Able To Bring Together The Upper Caste Vote And Score Among The Lower Obcs? Will The Muslims Stick On To SP?
U.P. and its caste Politics
Uttar Pradesh and Caste Politics are the two inseparable things, since 1990s, when regional parties and the BJP rose through caste-based and religious mobilizations. These parties built for themselves core support bases by mixing identity politics and caste-base favoritism and Caste preferences. These tactics often led them to antagonize entire segments of the electorate for the sake of accession of some supports.
The alignments were always clear: Dalits Or Lower Caste Is there With Behenji Mayawati, Upper Castes Of The UP Stands With The BJP, Yadavs And Muslims are For The Mulayam Singh Yadav And Azam Khan, nothing particular for Congress party, as it was never in absolute power or successful in UP as compared to others and still struggling to find the right face for UP .This is the basic scenario or the narrow version of identity politics led to the fragmentation of the political space in Uttar Pradesh.
But in 2017, the situation will be quite complex. these simplistic caste-party alignments are either gone or are not enough to explain or understand parties’ performances. It is evidently traced that during or the months before an elections. The “caste beckons” do make an impact on voters’ minds, choices.
Decoding castes and their voting math is hard nut
Most castes are too small or too geographically scattered to compose a core support base to any party or candidate, Nearly 40% of Uttar Pradesh’s castes have never sent a single representative to the assembly. These are essentially non-Jatav SC castes or castes that belong to the extremely Backward Class category. They constitute a floating electorate that is generally insensitive to caste appeals.
A survey data signifies that only a few groups of voters cast their votes specifically – Jatavs and Yadavs because they have both numerical strength and a party of their own. Other groups, including the upper castes, have been splitting their votes between parties and local candidates, election after election.
The caste is really not the backbone now as the basis of caste may be required to win elections but surely not be enough.
According to the 1931 census, the largest single caste — Jatavs or SC —represents 13% of the population. The two other large groups — Brahmins and Yadavs — represent respectively 9.2 and 8.9℅ of the population in the state. Factor in the fact that not all of them vote and that not all of them vote for the same party, and it becomes clear that campaigning by wooing specific castes to the exclusion of others does not help in winning elections. In fact, in recent times, majorities have been built by the other factors and capabilities than just caste.
the four main broad social groups — upper castes, OBCs, SCs and Muslims — represent each nearly one-fourth of the SP’s MLAs. The Bahujan Samaj Party wins majority of votes by its ability to consolidate the Jatav vote and induct other castes within its ranks, including the OBCs, who have always had the largest share of representation within the party.
Will BJP able to make dent in other parties vote bank this time?
Recently a growing differentiation of caste voting along class lines, the richer segments of most castes, barring the Dalits, voting more for the BJP. CSDS survey data again reveals, for example, that among the Yadavs — who remain a core support base for the SP — the richer segments tend to vote more for the BJP.
General election indicates in more recent times that social and religious polarisation can still be used to fragment the political space, to help build majorities of seats out of minorities of votes.
This is not to say that caste arithmetic no longer matters or operates but that it is insufficient to win an election. Caste still determines the distribution of tickets, which in turn shapes the representation caste groups have in the assembly. Ticket distribution can not done following pan-state caste combinations strategies but according to local, constituency-level, circumstances.
The inclusive character that the main parties have acquired in UP derives largely from the localisation of caste politics, which leads them to distribute tickets across the caste spectrum and therefore offer representation to nearly all. The successful parties are those who can, in addition, attract floating voters, by other means than identity politics.
We have seen in recent elections, in Bihar, West Bengal or Tamil Nadu, that the parties in power who offer tangible benefits to voters across caste divisions — to women in particular — get rewarded. This trend supersedes an older trend of incumbency disadvantage. More and more state governments are returned to power precisely because of their ability to effectively distribute public goods while transcending caste divisions. So the question that will animate most voters in the next assembly elections in UP is likely to be: Which party is in a better position to do so?.
Upper caste, Congress votes key to Amit Shah’s UP poll math. Apponting Sheila Dikshit as CM candidate congress is eying upper cast Brahmin vote, but Sheila Dikshit is not that big name who can fully achieve this goal
The BJP party president Amit Shah is of the view that Muslims, roughly 18% of voters, are solidly with SP, the ruling party now. He also feels the main fight is between SP and BJP, with Mawayati-led BSP “weakened” by “exits of several leaders.” But Congress can play a spoiler role for BJP. “If Congress revives a bit and gets some extra votes…it will divide the secular vote more and help for BJP.
Stay tuned for more updates!