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Opinion: ‘The 2022 State Elections Bound To Be A Turning Point For Uttar Pradesh’

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Few elections in the history of independent India have put the politics of the country to test. Both, the players of traditional politics and the parties with contemporary politics, either thrive or get trampled post such elections.

One such election is the upcoming state election of Uttar Pradesh (UP). I believe that the politics in UP has been at melting point since the Mandal Commission, and once again, the litmus test of the state is going to take place in 2022.

UP has closely witnessed the thick line of traditional politics, which creates divisions among religions.

Yogi Adityanath, the current chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, is infamous for his communal rhetoric. Representational image. Photo credit: MYogi Adityanath, Facebook.

In my opinion, the 2022 elections will either change the course of Indian politics or it will bury the shallowness, whose genesis was the Mandal Commission, of it. The politics of UP is not just about “the road to Delhi is via Lucknow”.

UP is that very state where 40% of its voters do not have their leader. These voters are on the fence and almost every political party is hungry for their votes.

Of Vote Bank Politics

If we go by statistics, there are 19% Muslims and 11% Brahmins who dwell in UP. They make up a total of 30% of its population. Unfortunately, no political party has enough leaders from these two communities to represent them.

If we were to understand the vote bank politics of UP, the vote bank of Akhilesh Yadav i.e., the Yadavs, can’t be easily dented. No one can touch Mayawati’s vote bank either, the Jatavs.

UP is a state with one of the highest rates of unemployment. The farmers of the state are worse off compared to farmers from other states. It is also a state where the educational and medical infrastructure is in an abyss. Yet, UP is a state which actually determines the equation in the Lok Sabha.

It’s about time the panchayat (village council) elections be considered because locals were contesting in it. The voters seemed to have decided that if they want to defeat the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), who wins does not matter.

Looking at the situation of the Vidhan Sabha elections, every political party has decided that they are going for the win.

Rate Of Unemployment Is Really High

The party that wants to win UP in 2022 and thereby, lay a red carpet to win the general elections in 2024 , are the ones who understand the significance of 2022.

As the state is preparing itself for this electoral exhibition, can any contesting MLA or sitting MP actually acknowledge the truth about the state?

The candidates who are planning to contest, do they have any idea about the unemployment rate of the state?

Do they have any idea regarding the financial plight of the farmers of the state and their day-to-day struggles? Do they have any idea of the situation of the migrant workers who returned home during the lockdowns?

Migrant workers who returned home during the lockdowns, were left without a source of income to fend for themselves and their families. Representational image. Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Is it just a game of caste in UP at the end of the day? Every party is busy setting the field and positioning leaders of particular castes, which will benefit them electorally. This is the holy grail of UP politics.

There is an interesting factor in the upcoming election. UP’s labour department has an online portal, where one can register themselves if they happen to be unemployed. That number is more than 50 lakh as of now.

This is just the number of unemployed people who have registered on the platform.

According to a survey, more than 1.3 crore youths are unemployed in the state of UP. Moreover, the maximum recipients of the PM Kisan Samman Nidhi scheme are also from the state.

Approximately 1.75 crore migrant workers, who returned amidst lockdowns, are in dismay and their financial plight is worse than ever. Will all these figures be presented by an MLA and an MP in the Vidhan Sabha and the parliament, respectively

Looking at the way the parliament is running, most certainly not. Even if this data is presented, what will be the outcome? How impactful will this be is the question every citizen needs to ponder upon.

Major Problems Are Being Ignored

I have seen top-tier politicians make statements about the caste system of the country, time and again. They feel like the caste system keeps the country running.

The unemployment rate doesn’t matter to them, nor the people who died because of polluted air and water. People who died due to poor medical infrastructure don’t matter either.

Let’s assume a hypothetical affair. What if 1.3 crore unemployed youth along with 2.5 crore framers of UP come together? No political party has an organisation consisting of as big a number as the unemployed youth in the state.

Akhilesh Yadav of the Samajwadi Party, speaks about his past governance. Ajay Bisht (Yogi Adityanath) also flexes his muscles with regard to his governance. Which of these two leaders have better governance and developmental policies is a debate for another time.

Despite the unending failures of politics in the state, people are still hopeful that 2022 will be the turning point of UP.

Who Will Win?

In conclusion, there are two main points to be noted about UP politics. First, will the 32-year-old Mandal politics meet its end? Second, the mockery of the system that the BJP government (post 2014) has contrived, will that come to an end in with the election results of UP?

Who will turn out to be a winner in 2022 is difficult to say today because there are still six months to go, and six months in UP is a very long time.

In the meantime, one can only say that the BJP has led to vikas (development) of poverty, unemployment and bankruptcy. Will the upcoming government safeguard UP from this?

Featured image is for representational purposes only.
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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

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.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

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.

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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.

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MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna 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.

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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.

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A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

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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.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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