For anybody, even remotely familiar with the word 'political', BJP's quite literary construct of branding Congress-SP-BSP as 'Ka-sa-b' formation in Uttar Pradesh is no surprise at all. The 'Ka-sa-b' dice suits them both ways -- either 'forced' or ‘cultivated’ -- in the overheated hankering for votes of Uttar Pradesh. The battle for Lucknow (soon New Delhi to follow) is being fought with no holds barred and all gloves thrown; perhaps never witnessed before (post 1992 Assembly elections could be excluded).
It looks as if cornered and lying low till now, BJP saw it as God-send opportunity or last-ditch bang to fire the salvo of hidden majoritarianism -- so dear and core to their heart. So, when it is trying to win 1 against 1/3, it could be a well-thought-out gamble for them to challenge the ‘competitive minoritism’, as it calls, allegedly by minority appeasing ‘Ka-sa-b' parties (Congress-SP-BSP).
Is it the reinvocation of 'Kamandal', 'Ayodhya', 'Hindutva' an
d 'Cultural Nationalism' factors among the think tanks of BJP? What a leader to lead the poll campaign in Ayodhya Land -- Uma Bharti -- self-proclaimed heiress of Kalyan Singh. Not only is she 'The Lady Bhagwa’ herself as she was one of the leading light of Ayodhya crusade, though earlier she was a firebrand from Madhya Pradesh, now a lady from Bundelkhand for Uttar Pradesh...
But, why has the BJP decided to tightly clutch its basic instincts, not then, but now, though riding with 'plus' or 'baggage' of 'Sadbhavana' in Gujarat? Was it a desperate act to suddenly dump the band-wagon of 'Corruption’ (read target Maya and Co.), 'Criminality' (read Kushwaha flip-flop coup) and Governance (Gujrat and MP modules) and bet with its core? The caveat could be that perhaps pushed against the wall, though aiming for the whole, BJP doesn't want any bullet to go unfired. It played the Kushwaha card to woo the Kushwaha caste, Bhagwa Lodh women to capture Kalyan's vote, Kirit Somaiya's investigation to garner 'Anna Votes' and also the governance plank by selling Modi's Gujarat laboratory for the people of Uttar Pradesh. However, the sudden high-gear pitch for the 'Core' resulted from past logarithm of singly or combined arithmetic of votes and also perhaps because of better understanding of the present and the future. Is this going to stay or is it just one more one-off UP experiment? (JD(U) contesting alone in the state minus NDA.)
What is simply on brute display in Uttar Pradesh is the ‘throat slit-bring votes spree’, wherein no contender, whether ascendant Yuvraj (two of them) trying to hoist themselves and Iron Lady trying her rearguard to keep her fort intact, are willing to give up -- whatever may be the cost and asking. The resultant 4.5% matched by 18% quota promise, 4 states in place of 1 and what not... It's all there in UP -- the sudden gushing Rushdie affair or raking up of Batla controversy. What was left for BJP to offer? They are neither at centre nor in state since 2004 and 2002, respectively. So, what is the harm for the Ayodhya kings to stoke the ‘Ka-sa-b’ fire? They lost the 'Anna' tag with Kushwaha but they always remember the 'Mantra of Ram’. It will be pertinent to recall that the same party was at the forefront in support of Shahbano judgment and they were the one who coined the addressal ‘Maulana' Mulayam.
No doubt the battlefield of Uttar Pradesh is reduced to the same stereotype rhetoric of caste and commune. I am reminded of a statement made some years ago by one prominent Congress leader when he said, 'Elections are won on the basis of sentiments”. Perhaps, BJP took a cue and decided to launch yet another movement on the question of minority appeasement, unheard of in the midst of election campaign ever before. The point not to be missed is that the movement is nothing but for forging the sentiments through high pitch electioneering with a difference.
It remains to be seen as to who will triumph - 'Maulana Mulayam' or 'Sadhvi' Uma Bharti or 'Statued' Ambedkerite Mayawati or ‘Challenger' Rahul Gandhi. Or will it be a repeat of history? Sentiments and issues folding up with the election report card and all depending upon overnight ragtag power alliances poll post.
Irrespective of who/whom wins or sits at Lucknow, one thing is certain -- it is also the litmus test for the Uttar Pradesh voters -- whether they will still prefer voting on the lines of caste and communal considerations, or, will the governance, progress and development be the reference index? Wait for the early 'March loot'!
(The views expressed by the author are personal)