is India's most populous state and over the last 17 years it has seen various ruling political parties. But in the last decade or so a quartet
emerged with the BSP (Bahujan Samaj Party)
, SP(Samajwadi Party)
and the Indian National Congress
as the main players. The BJP
and Congress are more like juniors in this big league of politicking. In recent elections (state, local and even national) the BSP
and SP have fought it out with no single party able to build a constituency that could deliver a state-wide election win without coalition partners. Well, that has changed with the BSP
winning a clear majority this time to the utter dismay ( I am dismayed at the dismay) of exit polls (discredited journalism).
Now, anti-incumbency is the name of the game in Indian politics where incumbents perennially leave much to be desired so the swinging of the political pendulum is not all that uncommon. However, this victory of the BSP
under the leadership of Ms. Mayawati
seems to sound the bugle of a new day at hand. Why? Because until now the BSP
was primarily a party representing sections of India's lowest castes, the Dalits
(who make-up the largest
segment of India's population). This time Mayawati
aggressively recruited upper caste (specifically, Brahmins
) candidates and voters as well. And she seems to have done it with unprecedented deftness because there is no visible loss in her Dalit
support. This transformation of Mayawati
and the BSP
from a party that detested the upper castes to now include them is an important development. The making of a party that is more in
clusive than ex
clusive elevates the BSP's
stature. Not many national parties can boast of the diversity of its candidates and cadres that the BSP
has now put together. Only the Indian National Congress has a similar make up but with a dispirited cadre.
India has national elections in 2009 and with such a convincing win in UP and more so such a convincing win by a party that apparently has bridged a historical divide (Dalit
) in these times (the Congress used to own this combination before 1989) anything can happen. Mayawati
has always maintained that her final destination is New Delhi. This win makes her a real contender and people will take her lightly at their own political peril.
2009 is still 2 years away and much can happen in the interim but these results have sent BSP
adversaries scrambling to the drawing board. Remember the current national government is a coalition and if the BSP
emerges as a significant party with a sizeable
block of seats in 2009 then Ms. Mayawati's
dream of being Prime Minister may not be too far fetched. This win also breathes life into the idea of creating a Third Front (other than the Congress and the BJP
). Both the Congress and the BJP
stand quite weak right now.
An interesting period in Indian politics begins. It is to be seen if this historic win translates into good governance. We shouldn't read too much into these results but they are significant enough for the pundits to re-evaluate the potential of the BSP
and its supremo Mayawati
We will be discussing these results and the overall political situation in India and more at our briefing on Capitol Hill
on May 17th. Please join us.