With the election trends flowing in from early morning for the Uttar Pradesh elections, I am forced to analyse the curious case of Uttar Pradesh. I hail from the wild West, the Western part of Uttar Pradesh. It is the heartland of sugarcane production in the country, has a huge green cover that feeds the numerous paper mills, is home to world-class handicrafts and infamously, the the murder and kidnapping capital of the country. The media doesn’t even highlight the innumerable cases of murders, rapes and caste and communally motivated executions.
Sadly, this is the Uttar Pradesh that today’s youth have known all their life. There is a sense of acceptance to this mafia raaj, if I may say so. But the dichotomy that the state presents is stark and in the face. There are three issues that I would discuss here – statistics, ground reality and absence of a political alternative.
Uttar Pradesh is home to over 200 million people. This is more than the population of our evergreen enemy, Pakistan. This is more than the population of Brazil, the largest country in South America. If Uttar Pradesh were to be a separate country, it would be the fifth largest in terms of population, behind China, India, United States and Indonesia.
Uttar Pradesh, as a separate country, would be the tenth largest in the world. Please rest assured that I do not want UP to be a separate country, the figures are just for comparison.
With a population of over 200 million and a boon in form of extremely fertile soil, you would expect UP to be the highest contributor to India’s GDP. Unfortunately, the state contributes just over 8% to the country’s GDP
The ground reality in Uttar Pradesh is that you must be affiliated to at least one political party to run a successful business. A classic example is the Jaypee Group. They were close to the on-the-verge-of-rout Mayawati government and reaped huge benefits. Before Mayawati came to power, Mulayam Singh from Samajwadi Party ruled the state and the camaraderie between him and Anil Ambani was known even to the kid on the street. Just on the eve of the results being declared, shares of Jaiprakash Associates, the holding company of Jaypee Group, fell 5% with the general advice being – sell the stock as Mayawati is going to lose power. At the same time, Anil Ambani owned companies gained substantially at the bourses. Needless to give any more examples on this front, I guess.
Moving to the common man, who has been milked dry over the years by successive governments, the situation on he ground will change. If the Mayawati government was notorious for large-scale corruption and improvement is law and order situation (yes, it is bad, but it was worse), Mulayam Singh has time and again ensured that the bahubalis from his party ensure a state of terror through extortion, murder, kidnapping and more. He presents a more business-centric approach but at a cost that the common man cannot afford.
The state machinery in Indian states run according to the party that is in power. A civil servant, who tries to perform his duty honestly, is either transferred or eliminated; depends on how high you are ranked in the hierarchy. Uttar Pradesh takes it to a totally different paradigm. The masters work on the Binary concept. It’s either their way or highway (where your body would be found).
The entire situation is not that bleak, though. There are people who have established industries and are reaping benefits. But again, political allegiance is a must. If you take the principles of right to equality and service, it is better to approach the private sector for jobs or services. Healthcare, for example, is in shambles. I say this from my own experience. I hail from Saharanpur, famous for it’s wood-carving and infamous for being the launch pad for many a illegal activities. My father suffered an angina pain and we rushed him to a private hospital. Obviously, the doctors were not available and we had to go to another hospital, wasting 30 minutes in the process. When driving to the second hospital, my only thoughts were to see my father breathing when we reach there. Fortunately, he was breathing and survived the scare.
There are two points to the story – why didn’t we go to the government hospital and why wasn’t the doctor available at night at the hospital. The answer to the first one is simple – no one wants to go to a government hospital. I had gone there once and had wowed never to get my loved ones there in case of an eventuality. The answer to the second question is also pretty straightforward – there is no pressure on life savers to be available on call at a hospital. I mention pressure as they were obviously not there out of their responsibility.
If the funds for healthcare are utilised properly, the government hospitals would be transformed for good but hey, there’s money to be eaten by government servants, right?
Absence of political alternative
Look at the options and you would understand. There’s Mayawati’s BSP that has ruled the stated with an absolute iron glove resulting in absolute corruption on the back of the absolute majority that she had got in 2007. Then there is Mulayam Singh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party that has been known for goondaraaj whenever they have been in power; we are to witness a repeat of the same. There is the BJP that was led by Uma Bharti who is from Madhya Pradesh on their pet plank of Hinduism. They must understand that the majority does not vote like the minorities. Then we have Congress that was led by his highness Prince Rahul Gandhi who managed to create a lot of stir in English media. The people from Uttar Pradesh depend on Amar Ujala and Dainik Jagran for formulation of their opinion, not an NDTV.
There is just no credible alternative! The Prince bashed Mayawati for the situation in the villages but never uttered a word about what his party would do if they came to power. This one requires another blog post but I ask this question – if the Gandhis have ruled Amethi for over half a century, why isn’t it at par even with Moradabad, leave aside Kanpur, the city with a GDP of $22 billion?
Look at Bihar. Nitish came and won a second term only on the basis of development. All hope is still not lost. SP has Akhilesh Yadav coming on to the big stage. He can make a difference if he takes the development route and if he manages to salvage the state from the law and order situation that exists now. Voters want development but in these elections, it was all about 4.5% or 9% or 18% reservation for Muslims. The elections were about highlighting others’ corruption while stating nothing on the accuser’s election plank.
Considering the fact that a large number of youth voters turned out to vote, it does not augur well for the Prince as the verdict is tipped towards Akhilesh Yadav. What needs to be seen is that with an almost absolute majority, would the SP deliver this time or would it be the same old grind?