ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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The Significance of Uttar Pradesh

Will 2009 see the Bahujan Samaj Party make an impact on the national scene with its coalition of disparate castes?

For many elections after independence, Uttar Pradesh (UP) remained central to the formation of any government in New Delhi. It was, and remains, the largest contributor of parliamentarians to the Lok Sabha. UP’s centrality to Indian politics also derived from the fact that it played the role of a political bellwether in the first nine elections. The party which won UP formed the government at the centre. But it was not merely an electoral bellwether, it was also the arena where the strategy of building social coalitions that would form a majority of the electorate under the Congress umbrella was initiated and worked out. The ability of the Congress in welding and managing an electorally successful social alliance of brahmins, dalits and Muslims has been much commented upon, as has been the gradual withering away of that bloc with the emergence of caste and religion-based politics.

With the decline of the social alliance of the Congress, UP’s role as the political bellwether of national electoral contests also declined. On the debris of the social alliance emerged two different forms of political forces. One form was represented by the castecommunity based political parties – the Samajwadi Party (SP) and its earlier version, the Janata Dal, and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), and the other form was the religion-defined Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

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