Yes, I am Yadav and I don’t necessarily vote for the Samajwadi Party (SP)!
My name is Sadhna Yadav and I’m pursuing journalism from a very reputed institute in the country. I also belong to one of the most populous states of the country, Uttar Pradesh (UP), where assembly elections are under way.
Since I belong to UP, I often encounter questions regarding my state. The questions range from ‘who are you going to vote’, ‘how has your state performed in the last five years’ to ‘do you see any development on the ground’ and even ones like ‘would you vote for the current chief minister (CM) again’.
It’s good that people bombard me with questions. However, it’s not good that people stereotype me. In fact, they are audacious enough to say: “Arey aap toh Yadav ho, SAPA (SP) ko hi vote doge (You are a Yadav and it’s obvious that you’ll vote for SP).”
When they come to know that I hail from Etah (a city in UP with a sizeable number of Yadavs), people become all the more sure that I vote for SP. I have been labelled a staunch SP supporter without my own acknowledgement. I have now stopped explaining myself. Neither am I irritated, nor do I hold grudges against them.
I am aware that politics in UP is highly based on rigid caste-lines. Even after 70 years of independence, people hold on dearly to their castes, which is not their fault at all. When the current Prime Minister (PM) himself bases his speeches on religious lines, why can’t people still hold on dearly to their caste? It is not just the PM who is at fault. As a matter of fact, a majority of political speeches in this election season have been sexist, casteist and divisive. Even animals have not been spared from this.
My concern, however, is beyond all this. I can’t comprehend why people label me a SP supporter, when they don’t even know me. I graduated from Delhi University (DU) after finishing my schooling in a liberal environment. Now I’m studying journalism, which requires you to look at things with a broad perspective. Therefore, I think and opine on things around me. I observe, analyse and only then do I ‘react’.
When I say I ‘react’, I don’t mean that I start beating up people for expressing their opinions – something which the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) has been doing since 2014. However, I‘m definitely not stupid to believe the claims, such as ‘there is almost 100% electricity in UP’, made by the CM of the state. Not every district in UP has a 24-hour electricity supply. In fact, my hometown Kasganj doesn’t have a 24-hour supply of electricity.
Though this government has constructed many highways including the newly constructed Lucknow-Agra Highway and the Yamuna Expressway, it should also be noted that accidents have also increased, especially along the Yamuna Expressway. There are villages in UP where roads are made of dust and not charcoal. The road from Aligarh to Kasganj shouldn’t even be considered as a ‘road’. My parents always say, “yahan sadak main gaddhe nahi, gaddho main road hai (There are no potholes on the roads here – the roads are within the potholes).”
Even though there is metro rail connectivity in cities like Ghaziabad and Noida, besides the ones being planned in Lucknow and Varanasi, these cities also have clogged drains, severe air pollution, suffocating traffic conditions, poorly maintained primary schools and hospitals. One of the clean hospitals in UP is in Safai, hometown of Mulayam Singh Yadav. Other clean hospital facilities being absent, people living in cities near Saifai have no choice but to run to the Uttar Pradesh University of Medical Sciences in Saifai in case of emergencies.
As a matter of principle, I don’t vote for politicians who deliver insensitive remarks when a woman is raped. A case in point would be Mulayam Singh Yadav’s remarks on rape: “Ladko se galti ho jati hai (Males are prone to making such mistakes).”
He is not the only politician whose remarks were insensitive. There are many more in the list. And all of this hurts.
The point that I am trying to make here is that I don’t simply vote on the basis of caste. Having said this, I do agree that there are people who blindly vote for a candidate, because they belong to the same caste. Once, I asked an auto driver from Mainpuri in UP: “Who would you vote for this election?” His response wasn’t surprising at all: “Akhilesh bhaiya apni caste ke hain, humare liye zarur marenge, kaam toh hota rehta hai (Brother Akhilesh belongs to my caste. He’ll definitely die for our sake, and will continue doing his job).” Such sentiments stand true not only in UP, but also in many other Indian states.
However, the literacy rate of UP is 67%, which means that there are people who make informed choices and don’t always vote according to considerations of caste. Not every Yadav votes for Yadav. Not every Muslim votes for a Muslim. Not every Hindu votes for a Hindu.
There are people who give priority to the development and the well-being of the country. UP is the most populous state of the country and not everybody is casteist. The whole purpose of writing this article was to convey this message to people.