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Uttar Pradesh is a land of complexities. It has low per capita income, literacy rates and a dismal Human Development Index and is riddled with a caste dominated political matrix. When the polls were greeted by a high turnout, the political pundits sat up, waiting for the results.
It is an understatement to say that the poll results took the country by surprise. Exit Polls were inadequate to predict the results in Uttar Pradesh, the populous centre of the Hindi heartland.
Anti incumbency seemed to be in the air, as the Uttar Pradesh results were flashed over and over on the news channels. Mayawati’s tenure as the Chief Minister of the State has hardly been untainted. The pinnacle of the 2007 election was the Dalit-Brahmin allegiance approach of BSP. It seems the perfect strategy to win over the land, but the actual implementation falls short of expectations. Dalits and the upper castes have long been at loggerheads, and to introduce a scheme for the betterment of one, resulted in displeasing the other. The result was that no concrete steps were taken to develop the state. Allegations of corruption, rise in her personal wealth, media exposure to her quirks (remember the shoes?) and the attempt to salvage the public opinion by firing ministers left and right have contributed to her eventual fall.
Mulayam Singh Yadav, the yesteryear politician, who had been written off for good after his failure in the 2007 elections has made a comeback, with his son in tow. Akhilesh Yadav, an engineer by education, and a politican by profession spearheaded the Samajwadi Party’s rise to power. Samajwadi party, had been likened to a ‘political party of goons and criminals’, but in the prior months, the party worked hard to clean it’s act up, and played on the anti-BSP sentiments in the public.
Congress could not gain a strong position, despite Rahul Gandhi and his pre-election campaigns. Uttar Pradesh is essentially a regional party stronghold, and the generalities of the national parties fail to work in the state, as demonstrated by the number of seats secured by Congress and BJP.
It’s the question of the sandstone elephants and bronze statues of Dalit leaders that plagues me. Mayawati had stated that SP will destroy them as soon as it gains office, but a calm Akhilesh Yadav announced that demolishing the statues was the last thing on his mind. Indeed, throwing open the parks to the public to obtain revenue should be a prime agenda, or the sheer maintained and upkeep of the memorials will drag the budget down. It is the sandstone elephant that has replaced the proverbial albatross around Mayawati’s neck.