By Saurabh Verma:
The most populous state of the country, Uttar Pradesh, is going to have elections next year. All the parties are planning their strategy. Even the Congress has hired the seemingly invincible Prashant Kishor, a poll strategist, to make them the winning party and help form a government in the land of Awadh. Meanwhile, an ABP News survey came as a big shock for the ruling Samajwadi Party (SP). From the survey, it seems that it will hardly win around 80 seats.
According to the survey, Mayawati, the supremo of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) is the first choice of the people as the Chief Minister of U.P. This reflects in the projected seat share too, which is over 180. The Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) is at the second position with 120 seats.
It’s very shocking for the ruling party that 60% of respondents felt that the law and order situation in the state has worsened in the last four years of Akhilesh’s regime. The question is why is Akhilesh Yadav inefficient in maintaining law and order in the state. It’s the public perception that Samajwadi Party encourages the ‘Goonda Raj’ (Goons’ Rule) in the state. I was on a research project in Varanasi and I found that most people had the same feeling on the law and order situation. And the same people feel that only Mayawati can handle the situation in U.P.
Recently, SP workers opened fire to celebrate the victory of an SP candidate in local body elections. The murder mystery of two girls from Badaun embarrassed the state government as it became a national issue at that time. The Muzzafarnagar riots are another example that show how inefficient the ruling government is in U.P.
It is evident that if Mayawati comes to power again, the only reason will be her capacity to deal with the law and order crisis. Her skills in administration have helped her win elections in the past also and she will be looking to repeat the same. I was working on a college project – a PR campaign for a party in U.P. elections. I found only one issue that will be at the centre and that is law and order. I compared the crime records of Mayawati’s rule with the Akhilesh’s regime. I found huge gaps there. Although, I could not find the crime data for 2015. Nevertheless, the SP is far ahead of the BSP as the crime graph shows. All the major crimes–murder, rape, burglary, dacoity, molestation, riots and thefts–have increased. In a previous article, I had talked about how Nitish Kumar’s government is good at maintaining the law and order situation in the Bihar.
Why is it so? I can’t find the answers. But, all development would seem hollow if the government is not able to protect the citizens. In Bihar, a journalist predicted that if Nitish comes to power again, it would be because of the electrification of villages by Nitish’s government. In this election, however, as ABP survey showed, there will be four key issues – unemployment, inflation, corruption and poverty. But I can promise that the party which is able to convince the people that it will provide a good state, better law and order along with these four issues will win.
BJP will be happy with the result that 62% respondents feel happy with the BJP-led NDA government at the Centre. And Modi is still at the top among the famous leaders. Mayawati comes second. AIMIM (All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen) is also seeking to expand its influence in U.P. where around 19% of the population is Muslim. In the upcoming elections, however, the two parties–BSP and BJP–will be at the centre of power. Whether alone or with any other but, I predict, one of these two parties will be part of the government after the 2017 elections.
Update: “..where around 40% of the population is Muslim” has been changed to “where around 19% of the population is Muslim”.