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After A Stunning Victory In Bihar, Can Nitish Kumar Perform The Same Miracle In U.P.?

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By Saurabh Verma:

up_election3After their overwhelming and historic victory in Bihar, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and his allies have their eyes set on the Uttar Pradesh Assembly Elections 2017. Nitish and Party President Sharad Yadav-led Janta Dal United (JD(U)) has formed an alliance with Late Choudhary Charan Singh’s party Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) with the aim of making a difference in state assembly elections next year. JD(U) in UP has much to be modest about. But Nitish Kumar has addressed a rally in UP. The politics of Uttar Pradesh revolves around the Samajwadi Party (SP) and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP). Even the Indian National Congress and Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) have not performed too well in the last two elections.

In the last Lok Sabha elections of 2014, BJP swept all parliamentary seats except some due to a wave created by the charismatic personality of Narendra Modi. The Modi-led BJP won 72 parliamentary seats out of 80. Before this, the BJP had not made its presence felt in UP even in the assembly elections of 2012. Congress has also met the same fate as BJP. Congress, too, has been out of the power since 1988. The interesting thing is that the BJP has not been able to win the Awadh for more than a decade. The last CM from BJP was the present Home Minister Rajnath Singh. Then what can JD(U) do in its first attempt? It seems like a rhetorical question.

The Mahagathbandhan won tremendously in Bihar. But that formula did not work out for Mulayam Singh Yadav of the SP who walked out of it on the issue of seat distribution. He was given a measly five seats which forced him to fight the Bihar elections on his own. The Bihar elections had a huge impact on national politics and changed the entire discourse. West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee and Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal extended their support to Nitish Kumar. That election changed the face of politics as it pitched Modi against the rest. All parties joined hands from Jammu & Kashmir former CM Farooq Abdullah to Assam CM Tarun Gogoi. They believed that they could fight against Prime Minister Modi together, with a united front that was formed in Bihar.

But here the question is, will Nitish be able to influence the elections in UP? If the Nitish-led alliance with RLD contests all 403 seats in UP, what will the impact be? Generally, RLD contests elections in western UP; it won only nine seats out of 46 seats that it had contested. The only reason to cheer was their vote share. The RLD got 20% of the votes polled. So, why is Nitish creating an alliance which wouldn’t work?

In 2007, when the RLD contested on 254 seats, it got only 10 seats with a vote share of less than six percent. After 2007, RLD confined itself to the western part of UP but was still unable to do much better. Another important thing to remember is that the JD(U) contested 16 seats in 2007 but won only one. In the previous elections, it contested 219 but was unable to win a single seat. From these points, it seems that this alliance is unlikely to have an impact in the upcoming elections. The only door left open for this alliance is to take the Congress on their side.

The Congress has ‘traditional voters’ there but their vote share in last two elections was 9% and 13%. But if they fight these elections together, it might have some positive results for them. It’s very amusing that the condition of Nitish Kumar in Uttar Pradesh is same as the Mulayam Singh Yadav in Bihar.

BSP supremo Mayawati is not looking forward to any of these alliances as it had announced long back that it will fight on its own. And they seem very confident about their decision. Besides, Uttar Pradesh is going to be much tougher than Bihar because it’s likely that another face may enter the competition — Arvind Kejriwal of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).

The political slugfest will intensify as the election dates are announced. Many alliances will be formed, and many broken.

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  1. Manjul Wadhwa

    Very well written article with intricate details. But there is only one thing that I disagree with – Arvind Kejriwal coming into UP. I guess Arvind Kejriwal has said in his statements also that they are not eying UP elections as they do not have any base. The sociological structure of UP is not such at this moment that will favor a party like AAP. There is a slight liking towards AAP but it is highly unlikely that likeness will get converted into a vote. Every Crush does not gets converted into a relationship !

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Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

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The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

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Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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