The pre-election ferment in the Uttar Pradesh politics has triggered all kinds of conjectures and claims. Many Dalit-OBC ministers, MLAs and leaders of the BJP have jumped on the Samajwadi Party (SP) bandwagon. What are the implications of these defections? Prof Sanjay Kumar, psephologist and director of Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS), spoke with FORWARD Press’ Hindi editor Nawal Kishore Kumar on these developments. Here’s the first part of the interview:
What initially seemed to be a multipolar contest is fast assuming the form of a two-horse race. What is your first reaction to the recent developments in Uttar Pradesh?
There are many parties in the fray in Uttar Pradesh. They include Samajwadi Party (SP), Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Congress, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and All-India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Mulslimeen (AIMIM). Then there are several other regional parties such as the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) and Om Prakash Rajbhar’s Suheldev Bhartiya Samaj Party. Some parties have forged alliances with the SP; others have become a part of the BJP coalition. Congress is also in the field, ploughing a lonely furrow. The BSP is also girding its loins and has decided to go it alone. The BSP has announced several of its candidates. Thus, broadly speaking, we have the SP alliance, the BJP alliance, the BSP and the Congress vying for power in the state. This means a four-cornered contest. But the way things are shaping up, it appears that the real contest will be between the BJP alliance and the SP alliance. With each passing day, other parties are getting squeezed out of the race. Until about a month and a half ago, it appeared that the BJP alliance was leading and the SP alliance was in the second spot. Some people thought that the BSP would have a meaningful role to play. But now, from the way the BJP defectors are making a beeline for the SP, it is more than clear that in popular perception SP is the only party that can pose a credible challenge to the BJP. The contest in Uttar Pradesh is clearly bipolar.