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Apropos of your cover story And the Winner Is...Chaos (Jan 23), UP 2012 is turning into a rat race for OBC/MBC votes. The reason, presumably, is the Congress’s coming in second in ’09 after Mayawati’s Brahmin-Dalit axis splintered. For the first time, the smaller, marginalised castes are grabbing eyeballs—as one can see with both BJP and Congress plunging into the chase (the candidate list of both says it all). The OBC/MBC votes are the floating ones up for grabs as the majority of Yadavs and Jatavs are with Mulayam and Mayawati. The Congress and BJP are hoping to crack the Nitish Kumar model used in Bihar. In a way, it’s good that both parties have got past their fixation on upper-caste votes—thanks to the social churning stoked by Mayawati and Mulayam.
Jab bhi ziqr chhida qayamat ka, baat aa pahunchi teri jawani pe (Whenever calamity was mentioned, it came down to your youth). After 65 years of ‘development’, it still boils down to the ancient verities of caste/religion. Cut between four contenders, the result should be quite a kaleidoscope.
Ashok Lal, Mumbai
The UP results this time will be matched only by the 1991 elections when the BJP rode the Hindutva wave, Mandal marked the emergence of Mulayam and the BSP neared critical mass. Mayawati seems to be at a disadvantage this time, with anti-incumbency, corruption, the caste domination of Jatavs being key factors against her. By contrast, the SP looks more organised. A Congress revival is also on the cards in UP as Jats, a section of Muslims and upper castes and Kurmis are steering towards the party.
The UP electorate might be variegated but it delivered a clear verdict in the last assembly polls. Five years on, even with the incessant media spotlight and a frenzied opposition, the incumbent BSP government has managed to steer governance for the better. Caste combinations do not dissipate overnight. Sure, there will be some surprises, but the opposition parties will need a miracle to bring down the elephant.
Sunil Kumar, Delhi
What base do national parties have in UP, beyond their own little pocketboroughs? The media in Delhi can make what it will of them, but they are looking at a facade. Still, your cover was an interesting read, catching a sense of the place.
M.K. Saini, Delhi
It’s pathetic that the media should obsess over the Maya or Mulayam math, when both are a disaster for the state. Am I glad that I am from Uttarakhand which, if not a vast improvement, is still anyday better than Ulta Pradesh.
I see no hope for UP. Whoever wins the election, Mulayam or Mayawati, the loser will be the people of the state.
Sajid Khan, Providence, US
Order emergeth from Chaos!
The cover title (The M+M challenge) brought a chocolatey (read ‘M&M’) smile to my face.
Amit Loiwal, Baroda