Why Yadavs-Jatavs are voting together -- BJP responsible?
The SP-BSP alliance, even at the fag end of the elections, remains an enigma for many and political pundits remain sceptical about its future. The seeds of the future of the alliance lie buried in its past.
Yadavs and Jatavs in Uttar Pradesh have been at war since 1995 when the Samajwadi Party-Bahujan Samaj Party alliance cracked up after the infamous State Guest House incident in which Mayawati, then a second rung BSP leader, was held captive with party MLAs for almost 28 hours.
The then Mulayam Singh government was dismissed and Mayawati, with support from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), became the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh. From here began the Yadav-Jatav war that reached out into the rural interiors of the state.
Whenever Mayawati came to power, Yadavs would be targeted and booked under the SC/ST Act and when it was the Yadavs' time in the state, Jatavs would be at the receiving end. Both the caste groups were alternately in power and the game played on. Both the caste groups voted en bloc for their caste leaders.
In 2014, enchanted by the Narendra Modi magic that had unleashed across the country, Yadavs and Dalits went with the BJP in the hope of finding a new horizon for themselves.
The Yadavs were upset because Mulayam Singh Yadav had been pushed into semi-retirement by his son Akhilesh and the Jatavs were anxiously watching Mayawati's slipping political graph.
"When we voted for BJP, we were hopeful but our hopes were dashed when the party came to power in Uttar Pradesh. The Yogi Adityanath government systematically removed Yadavs posted in the police department and sent them on inconsequential duties - this generated insecurity in the community at the ground level," said Shailendra Yadav, a businessman in Kannauj.
"The BJP ardently wooed OBCs but kept Yadavs out completely. They did not give tickets to Yadavs, denied them ministerial positions. Yadav officers were also pushed out of important positions. For a community that constitutes 15 per cent of the total population and almost 40 per cent of the OBC population, this was unacceptable."
Meanwhile, the Jatavs who had voted for the BJP leaving the BSP with zero seats in 2014, were equally disillusioned with the Yogi Adityanath government.
"The Yogi government treated us with disdain. They talk about Dalits but when it comes to sharing power, they keep us out. Look at the pathetic condition of Dalits in their own party - they remain alienated from the core groups of the party. The BJP essentially has an upper caste mentality - Yogi Adityanath got the Chief Minister's official residence washed with ‘Gangajal' because the earlier occupant (Akhilesh Yadav) was an OBC," said a Dalit government officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The officer pointed out that it was a necessity that made Yadavs and Jatavs finally bury their hostilities and join hands to regain their place in power.
"We have voted together because the message was clear - either join hands or vote together or continue to face humiliation," the officer added.
The leaders, Mayawati and Akhilesh Yadav, too were equally anxious to repair their political careers. Mayawati had faced major failures in the 2014 general elections and then in the 2017 Assembly elections. Akhilesh Yadav, after the family feud, had lost power in the 2017 elections and needed to get his act together before his party disintegrated.
The SP-BSP alliance is now poised for a major victory in Uttar Pradesh and if reports are to be believed, it may even out do the BJP.
The alliance is confident of playing the role of the king and not necessarily the kingmaker.
"Don't be surprised by the result. The alliance could give the next prime minister to the country. No government will be formed without us," said SP spokesman Anurag Bhadauria.