Ritesh K Srivastava
Strange are the ways of politics. One never knows when and how two-arch rivals become the best friends, and why two close allies suddenly turn bitter foes. It is probably the politicians’ never-dying lust for power and money that motivates a mole to befriend a snake. The political fraternity in our country seems to be less concerned about ethics, morality and ideology. Forget the lofty ideals of serving the motherland and bettering the lives of our countrymen, our wily politicians are just busy grinding their own axe if it serves their vested interests.
When the former UP Chief Minister Kalyan Singh ditched the Bharatiya Janta Party, it immediately reminded me of those famous three words "Et tu, Bruté” said by Julius Caesar, who was murdered by a group of senators led by Marcus Brutus in 44 BC.
Kalyan Singh is a modern day ‘Brutus’ since he also ditched the saffron party like Roman, betrayed his close friend King Julius Caesar. After years of association with the saffron party, the dalit leader deserted the saffron ship in the deep sea when it needed him the most, considering the General Elections 2009 to the 15th Lok Sabha.
Kalyan Singh is arguably one of the most prominent saffron leaders, who played a pivotal role in the BJP’s emergence as a national party and in UP- regarded as the nerve centre of the Indian politics. Riding high on the success of the Hindutva and the Ramjanmabhumi movement, Kalyan Singh went on to build his own strong fundamentals. Consequently, the saffron brigade rewarded the dalit leader by offering him the chief ministership of one of India’s most politically significant states - UP.
However, he deserted the saffron party citing reasons that the top BJP leaders were trying to sideline him and his voice was left unheard in the party affairs. However, these allegations were immediately rubbished by the party, which said that Kalyan Singh is disappointed because his son was not given a ticket to contest the Lok Sabha polls.
Kalyan Singh, on his part, in a bid to prove his secular character and appease the Muslim lobby supporting the SP, went to extent of saying that he was kept in the dark by two top BJP leaders about demolition of the Babri Mosque!
He has also tried to save his face in the public by tendering an apology to Muslims for his role in the demolition of Babri Mosque in 1992 - the incident which changed the communal fabric of the country for ever. It is very unlikely that the traditional Muslim community will forget bitter memories and pardon Kalyan Singh, who was the Chief Minister when the historic mosque was demolished by the agitated Kar Sewaks.
The former Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh now talks of Muslim welfare and portrays himself as a true well-wisher of the minority community. But insiders know very well that Kalyan’s Muslim appeasement policy, which is aimed at securing a political asylum for himself and his son, will not work.
The BJP, however, did the damage control work by securing an alliance with Ajit Singh’s RLD to make sure that Kalyan’s dramatic exit just ahead of the polls does not make any difference at least in the rich sugarcane belt in Western UP..
SP chief Mulayam Singh perhaps played the biggest political gamble of his life by opening doors for the former BJP leader despite stiff resistance from the Muslim sympathisers of the party in the form of Md Azam Khan.
SP’s well-known master-fixer Amar Singh is supposed to have played a key role in Kalyan Singh’s marriage to the Samajawadi Party. Amar Singh probably thought that Kalyan’s influence in the Lodh dominated region will provide an edge to his party over the BSP-led by Mayawati.
The Mulayam-Kalyan deal appeared to be benefiting the two sides since Kalyan’s son contested the Lok Sabha election on SP ticket, whereas Mulayam got assurances of the Lodh votes in at least half a dozen seats.
If Kalyan’s growing proximity with the SP camp posed threat to BJP’s electoral chances in UP, Mulayam’s party also faced big risk of losing the support of its traditional Muslim voters, who have rejected the “secular credentials” of Kalyan Singh.
Kalyan-Mulayam friendship has surely faced a litmus test during the polls with greater chances of Muslims drifting apart and voting in favour of the BSP.
Moreover, the Kalyan-Mulayam friendship also threatens the newly announced triumvirate of the SP-LJP and RJD since Lalu Prasad Yadav and Ramvilas Paswan have openly criticised Kalyan Singh for betraying Muslims.
The rift in the SP-Congress ties, the bitter SP-BSP rivalry and the collective resolve of the SP, BSP, Congress, LJP and RJD to prevent the rise of right-wing BJP made UP a level-playing political turf with a lot of uncertainties.
Any swing in the votes of minority and the backward castes will decide the fate of parties like SP and BSP, which rely heavily on their support. The stakes are clearly high in the state, which is often referred to as the “caste cauldron” where the Yadavs, Lodhs, Jats, Gujjars, Shakyas and Muslims have the potential to change the political outcome at the national level.
Eyeing on the Lodh-Yadav combination, Kalyan Singh himself contested the Lok Sabha polls as an independent from Etah backed by the SP. Voters in UP and the political fraternity, especially the BJP, are eager to see whether Kalyan Singh succeeds in winning the hearts of betrayed Muslims and whether he will help the SP settle its political score with Mayawati. As of now, Kalyan Singh, who has just seized to be the leader of the Lodhs after deserting BJP, is desperately trying to come out of the shadow of past actions. However, in the caste-driven politics of Uttar Pradesh, only time will tell whose gamble paid off.