As BJP MLAs and Ministers quit the party in UP on the plea that ‘they are concerned about the deteriorating condition of the Dalits, OBCs and Minorities’, they are also admitting that they were too incompetent or ineffective to make any difference. The implication that they were ‘neutered’ during their time in office by an overbearing Yogi Adityanath should be taken as a message by the people that they would be just as incapacitated when serving Akhilesh Yadav in the Samajwadi Party. Compare this with a Varun Gandhi, who never hesitates to speak his mind in public. He, too, may be planning to jump ship when it is time for the Lok Sabha elections, but he will at least have a clearer conscience.
Generally, of course, nobody has any illusions about what is going on, least of all the various sub-castes and communities that are the object of this sudden eruption of concern. The pretence that these defectors are looking out for their communities seeks to project that there is widespread discontentment among them with the present dispensation. In fact, the sub-text is the possibility of becoming an important cog in the power structure like the dominant Yadavs and others that would hopefully attract the votes.
This overlooks an important factor that could upset all these plans. The election is likely to be a referendum on the Yogi-Modi model of governance. In a scenario that promises to be a straight contest between two fronts – one led by Yogi and the other by Akhilesh – merely caste-based polarisation is not the only dynamic at play. At a certain level, people will have to consider whether they want the illusion of being part of powerful community or the daily quality of life obtained under the present regime.
Even at the present when the level of corruption and crime has significantly reduced, industries and others wishing to invest in UP are hesitant. Any return to the ‘bad old days’ would setback development efforts in a big way. No amount of infrastructure growth and other enablers will work if it does not lead to expansion of industry and commerce. Those already operating in UP will be feeling the jitters at the possibility of ‘Saifai Rule’. However confident Akhilesh Yadav and his new cohorts may feel, at present, they have a past baggage that will not be so easily overcome.