Monday, Jun 27, 2022
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Politics of Identity

How Regional Parties Are Becoming The Voice Of Small Communities

Emergence of smaller population groups to assert their claims over the political space has given birth to smaller regional parties, sometimes representing minuscule communities often ignored or subsumed by larger political groupings

How Regional Parties Are Becoming The Voice Of Small Communities
Small Is Powerful Small Is Powerful

In 1991, when the then chief minister Mulayam Singh Yadav was wiped out by the BJP in the assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, many political analysts had started writing the political obituary of the patriarch. But the seasoned and wily politician that he is, Mulayam Singh bounced back spectacularly. He formed his own outfit, the Samajwadi Party, in 1992 and a year later,  contested elections in alliance with BSP to oust the BJP from power. “Mulayam forming his own outfit was not an isolated incident…the writing on the wall was clear. We needed to go beyond the established communities,” says C.P. Rai, the then general secretary of SP. “In the Indian federal structure, the time has arrived when smaller groups will manifest their power.”

The SP leader’s social engineering ensured a rainbow coalition as he wooed leaders of div­erse castes and communities, recalls Rai. One such leader was Gulab Sehra—a Congress leader, a two-term Dalit MLA and the leader of opposition. When Mulayam asked Sehra to join SP, Rai was the man who persuaded the Dalit leader to switch sides. And when Mulayam became the CM, he took Sehra on his official plane to Agra. “The awakening after the Mandal Commission was harvested mainly by Yadavs and Kurmis in UP. But federalism had space for other smaller groups and castes. I persuaded Mulayam to appoint Sunder Singh Baghel as Ferozabad unit president of SP. He later went on to become minister. Today, Baghel is a very enlightened community in the Agra region,” Rai adds.

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