It’s finally over. The Uttar Pradesh verdict is out. The cycle has for once run over the elephant, that too pretty convincingly. Mulayam Singh’s Samajwadi party has removed the ‘Maya jaal’ from Uttar Pradesh and is all set to take over the reins of the state. It is a clear mandate for Samajwadi Party with 224 seats, while the incumbent BSP had to remain content with only 79. Mulayam and the new prince of UP, Akhilesh must have already started making their grand plans for the most important state in Indian politics.
But what does this election mean for Madam Mayawati? What happens to all the projects that the BSP had started? Mayawati and Mulayam are eternal foes and history shows that they were always after each other. In 2007, when Mayawati swept the Assembly polls, she straightaway went after Mulayam by opening corruption cases against him and his ministers. And it could be payback time now. Is Mayawati about to get a dose of her own medicine?
There are al
ready murmurs that the people in Mayawati’s bastion would suffer the full brunt of SP’s vengeance. The projects that Mayawati started, both personal and public, can get stalled if Mulayam has his way. Places like Ghaziabad, Noida and Greater Noida where Maya has always focused her attention – these being her home turf – have earlier also suffered whenever the cycle took power in the state. Already, the residents of these townships are planning to adopt a watch and wait policy. Although the face of Akhilesh Singh is that of a fresh Samajwadi Party leader, people are wary and hoping that the future doesn’t turn bleak like last time when development projects in these areas were almost stalled.
Just before the elections Mayawati had gone on a party clean-up spree. She denied tickets to almost 100 sitting MLAs, and even cleaned up half of her cabinet, firing ministers facing charges of corruption. She might have thought that this clean-up act will fool the voters. But voters these days are smarter than that. They just rejected Mayawati and her jumbo antics.
Mulayam, meanwhile, is most likely to react. He may go firing all guns after the queen and her men. Not to mention now he has good reasons. He can just say if Mayawati believed her men were corrupt and threw them out, then they ought to be investigated for corruption. He might just order the entire administration to turn their undivided attention on Bhenji, to trounce her elephantine image. Mulayam may further try and get his own people in the administration, to carry out his vendetta against Mayawati, which might also trigger a flurry of transfers and appointments. Mulayam would definitely like to see Bhenji in all kinds of trouble and cause her extreme discomfort.
Vendetta politics is nowadays very common. Whoever has been in power has tried to impede the development works started in the previous opposition regime’s time. It could be termed even cut-throat quite literally to the point where it has also turned very bloody. The most classic example of vendetta in politics is the tale of Jayalalithaa and Karunanidhi. We have seen some horrific pictures of persecution.
The state of West Bengal is also infamous for its vendetta politics. Trinamool and the Left have gone to the point where streets have turned red with blood. The state has a history of violent spats between the two parties. Same is the story in the hinterland of Uttar Pradesh. So, is the era of vendetta politics set to return in UP? Bhenji and Netaji have always tried to make each other’s life very uncomfortable.
“I will throw Mulayam Singh Yadav, Amar Singh and erring officers into jail when voted to power for the multi-crore scandals during their regime,” this was Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) supremo Mayawati’s refrain during electioneering before the 2007 Assembly polls. She won, and a BSP government was formed in May. After she was sworn in, Mayawati ordered a series of inquiries against the Yadav family.
However, the situation in Samajwadi party is very different this time around. The baton has been passed onto the next in line in the Yadav family, Akhilesh. Will Samajwadi Party appears in a new avatar? In all his interviews, the new ‘yuvaraj’ has shown a very different face of the party. He has promised that there will be no vendetta politics. He has said categorically that Samajwadi Party has no plans to demolish the statues of Mayawati nor will they go after her. He has his goals pretty much set. Akhilesh has been saying that the development of Uttar Pradesh and to turn it into ‘Uttam Pradesh’ will be his only agenda.
But will Akhilesh Yadav stick to his word? This is something only time will tell. Mulayam and Akhilesh should look for a broader perspective and towards the future. Short-term political vendetta might balm their burning hearts, but if they wish to retain power in Uttar Pradesh, they need to take the route of development.
(The views expressed by the author are personal)