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A Duel in or for Democracy?

Uttar Pradesh Elections

The people’s mandate in favour of the Bharatiya Janata Party has consolidated the aggressive, masculine, and religious majoritarianism of the “new India” cherished by the Sangh Parivar. This further squeezed the little public space available for the marginalised sections of the society, especially Muslims. The formation of a group of compromised citizens who are ready to give up their social and political rights for the right to live is burgeoning in the state.

It can be surmised that the recently concluded assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh (UP) was a duel between the Hindutva model of politics and governance and those who were opposed to it. On the ground, the battle was between the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Samajwadi Party (SP) and their respective alliances. On the one hand, the BJP and its activists were sure about their victory. They were sure of their social base and the schemes’ benefits received by the poor under Yogi Adityanath’s government. On the other hand, SP activists started their campaign by putting up a light-emitting diode (LED) machine counting back the days remaining when the party’s government came into Lucknow. Aa rahe hai Akhilesh (Akhilesh is coming), was echoing among workers and the realm beyond it.

The SP was counting on the newly formed alliance with a few smaller parties along with the enormous issues that were not properly dealt with by the BJP. These ­issues were: unemployment, farmers’ agitation, lack of investment in the state, stray animals, and foremost physical ­attack on the Dalits and Muslims by the elements “allegedly” supported by the party in power and administration. However, it was felt that throughout the five-year rule of the BJP the opposition was absent and numb on all the above issues. The question is why? A fear of ­biased police and administrative action was found while talking to some of the activists of the opposition parties about inaction against the bad governance. It was further argued that, with the massive electoral victory in UP, the government used its institutions, especially the police to cripple the oppositional activities. On this count, Alexis de Tocqueville (2010) reminds us that an omnipotent government cannot safeguard the liberty of its citizens. In the process of “democracy devouring itself”1 through a personality, ethnic majority parties or any exclusive ideological organisation, it demonises, intimidates, and victimises (and occasi­onally even jails or murders) opponents who get in their way. Space for opposition parties, civil society, and the media shrinks. Ethnic, religious, and other identity cleavages polarise many societies that lack well-designed democratic institutions to manage those cleavages and the bureaucracy lacks the policy expertise and, even more so, the independence, neutrality, and authority to effectively manage the economy. Weak economic performance and rising inequality exacerbate the problems of abuse of power, rigging of elections, and violation of the democratic rules of the game (Diamond 2015).

According to those who watch the status of democracy around the globe such as the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) and Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem) Institute, this is what turns India into an “illiberal democracy” or an “electoral autocracy.” Thus, the UP asse­mbly elections of 2022 was seen as saving the democracy from further plunging as the state has been a bigger contributor to the democide2 of democracy in India.

Hindutva and Governance since 2017

Glimpses of a downward shift in democracy are visible in the five-year rule (2017–22) of the BJP. The analysis of the reign of Adityanath from 2017 to 2022 in UP also helps to comprehend the nature of governance under Hindutva and set a context for the 2022 election. It was no surprise that Adityanath took the centre stage to mobilise the voters in 2017. Adityanath campaigned in the western, central and eastern regions of the state extensively. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s speeches also helped in mobilising Hindus’ votes through the rhetoric of shamshan versus kabristan (Hindu crematorium versus Muslim graveyard) and Eid versus Diwali (Hindu versus Muslim festivals).3 Prime Minister Modi and Adityanath have complimented each other in their metanarrative of ­nationalism and development shrouded in Hindu hegemony.

The result was a humongous win by the party. S I Wilkinson (2004) argues against the instrumentalist nature of ­riots in India in the context of votes and violences. Wilkinson discusses what cau­ses riots and what stops them from occur­ring. According to him, when there are two parties and the government does not rely on minority votes, it does not prevent riots. When there is close electoral competition in a particular region, major communal violence arises. The second factor worked in UP between 2013 and 2017.

Once the government was formed, the prime agenda was the Hinduisation of politics and administration, both in its outlook and action. Some of the majoritarian cultural agenda forwarded by the BJP were: renaming of the cities, cases against love jihad, anti-conversion law, Uttar Pradesh Cabinet Cow Slaughter Prevention (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020, more funds for Kumbh Mela, lighting lakhs of diya, police officials throwing flowers on kawariyas, ban on liquor and meat shops in the route of kaw­ariyas, painting Haj House with saffron colour.

To deal with law and order, the state government followed the policy of Thok Do (hit/kill them) and Operation Langda (shoot in the legs). In the process, fake encounters with petty criminals or even innocent people took place. A total of 151 people were killed in such police enc­ounters.

From 20 March 2017 to June 2021, 139 criminals have been killed and 3,196 injured in police encounters. In these actions, 13 police personnel were martyred, while 1,122 were injured … Over 13,700 cases have been registered under the Gangster Act, in which more than 43,000 people have been arrested in the past four years. Between July 2020 and October 2021, 12 more dead in encounters raised the total figure to 151.4

It was reported that of the total ­encounters, 37% were Muslims. Next on the list were the Yadavs, backward castes, and Dalits. So far, it does not seem to have bothered BJP’s supporters from the Other Backward Classes (OBCs) and upper castes in the state.

For the majority supporters, it was a brutal manifestation of majboot sarkar (strong government) against its own citi­zens. The state’s behaviour towards a particular community during the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) protest was just another example of exclusive governance to satisfy the majority conscience. In December 2019, after a protest turned violent, the state filed first information reports (FIRs) against social activists along with many unknown individuals. The administration put up a poster with photos and names of people from a community and asked them to pay the amount for damaging government property. The Supreme Court had to ask the state not to recover the amount as per an earlier order. The UP’s government came up with a new law, the UP Recovery of Damages to Public and Private Property Bill in 2021. It has a provision of fines up to `1 lakh or imprisonment.

Dalits have also suffered under the BJP rule on many occasions. For inst­ance, police and administrative beha­viour during Sabbirpur and Saharanpur inci­dent in 2017, Bharat Band in April 2018 against the dilution of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, handling of Hathras and Unnao rape cases and custodial death of Arun Valmiki in Agra have traumatised the neo-social base of Hindutva. In the past, many Scheduled Castes (SCs) such as: Valmiki, Khatik, Pasi, Mushahar, Dhobi and others have shown an inclination towards the BJP. Such governance can prove to be a chink in the armour of the Hindutva forces.

The BJP’s (mis)governance does not stop at this. Once unchallenged, the dominance of Hindutva was perceived by the BJP and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). The caste tussle further exposed the Hindutva governance in the state. During police encounters of criminals belonging to the Brahmin caste in the state, the elite section of the community started talking about the victimisation at the hands of a Thakur. Hindutva governance was reduced to the Thakur rule. However, an interesting development in the last part of the BJP’s rule was dissent coming up from major OBC allies of Hindutva. What causes the OBC ­leaders’ desertion from BJP?

Chief Minister Adityanath’s centralised governance was perceived as a Thakur leader acting to disempower the political leadership of OBCs and Dalit representatives; growth of joblessness in the economy, privatisation which took away permanent government jobs, and attack on the reservation are a few variables that cumulatively affect the desertion by the OBCs. Kanchan Chandra’s ­argument of ethnic groups or support to caste representatives based on patronage democracy is aimed at the access to power and resources. However, in the five-year rule, the OBC representatives were unable to exercise any political influence in their constituencies. O P Rajbhar was the first rebellion against such political and administrative marginalisation of representatives from weaker sections. He argued that the BJP is not fulfilling its promise to introduce subcategorisation in the OBC quota. This had been simmering for a longer time among the OBC leaders. Once the code of conduct for the 2022 election was announced, the state had seen major defections from the BJP. The extent of defection was such that SP leader, Akhilesh Yadav, had to clarify that the party will not be accepting any more leaders from the BJP. In January 2022, several members of legislative assembly (MLAs), including Swami Prasad Maurya, Dharam Singh Saini, and Dara Singh Chauhan resigned from the BJP and joined the SP.

The desertion has two features: (i) it is from the bottom up; (ii) mobilisation is not ideological or it is not the repetition of mandal politics as pronounced by many. The OBCs, especially the youth, fall for the BJP’s promise of achhe din (good days) and feel betrayed. The BJP government in UP and at the union was termed as a double ­engine government because of a faster rate of growth. Buoyancy by the majority party (BJP) was achieved in the 2017 ass­embly elections. In July 2019, the Adityanath-led government promised to make UP a $1 trillion economy.

But, the analysis of the growth rate and employment in the economy has a different story to tell.

In UP, the number of unemployed persons—those without jobs but willing to work—has risen from about 40 lakh in January–April 2017 to nearly 56 lakh in May–August 2021, as per CMIE’s latest reports … For young men and women between 25 and 29 years of age, the rate of unemployment has nearly doubled—from 8.8% to 15.9%—over the past four and a half years … In the other age group of 20–24 years, joblessness has increased from an already unconscionable 23.1% to a jaw-dropping 31.5% in the same period.5

Recently, the state has seen some improvement in the employment situation.

It should be noticed that the tertiary sector contributed 49.7% to the gross state domestic product (GSDP) in 2019 but it only provided 25.28% of employment. Nevertheless, 77.73% of the population resides in rural areas. In 2018, agri­culture and allied sector provided 50.13% of employment and contributed only 25.3% to GSDP.6 Thus, there is a wide income gap. Further, the capacity of agriculture in terms of providing employment is also dwindling. Highlighting this fact, Seema Jhosi (2004) argued that, “GDP and employment since 1950–2000, change and tilt in favour of ‘tertiary’ sector. Agriculture has reached saturation. Tertiary sector initially provided additional employment but empl­oyment elasticity is on decrease leading to jobless growth.” Because of its aboun­ded resources, agriculture can transfer the resources (in terms of the labour force) to the secondary sector. It is also empirically proven that there is a positive relationship between agricultural growth and economic dev­elopment (Valdés and Foste 2010).

The state has approximately 50% of the OBCs residing in rural areas. The OBC youth rely on government jobs (group A to group D jobs) for their economic mobi­lity. They found that Hindutva governance has not been able to create these jobs. Furthermore, they understood that the union government’s privatisation ­efforts will further wean away from ­access to opportunity. This made and continues to make the youth angry. The political leaders from the community have sensed this and changed the party acc­ordingly. The OBCs want a share in resources, which was pushed back by the BJP, thinking that Hindutva had taken care of economic aspirations. This was a misreading by the BJP because the OBCs and Dalits want a real share of resources.

Caste-based politics and social movements have raised political awareness even amongst the smallest caste group. But, the awareness is varied and peculiar. The time and space in which it (the ess­ence of movement) has reached the groups is important. Most caste groups catch hold of one aspect and with their number, once united, they can have a share in power, which shall open the gate of opportunity for them. They leave ano­ther aspect, that is, the ideological base of social justice which has the potential to make them understand the process that subjugates them in society. Hence, many smaller caste groups with political and economic aspirations are now available in the electoral market. They are ready to join any political party which has the potential or can help in fulfilling their goals. Thus, just before the elections, we can see the pendulum work of such parties, including individual aspirants from the marginalised community. These parties and individuals not only cross the boundary of politics of social justice but also stand closer to post-ethical politics.

Hindutva and Electoral Performance in 2022

Some commentators were convinced about the victory of the SP alliance in the 2022 elections, given the overall scenario of the economy, cultural hegemony and law-and-order situation. However, the result proved otherwise. The SP alliance got 125 seats, whereas the BJP alliance got 273 seats. The BJP and SP alone got 255 and 111 seats. The BJP got 41.29% of valid votes, whereas the SP got 32.06%. The total votes in fav­our of the BJP was 3.8 crore as against the SP’s 2.95 crore. The total vote difference of 85 lakh made a gap of 144 seats.

Table 2 reveals that the BJP has a better social-group representation among winning candidates in the latest assembly than its opposition. Upper castes—Brahmins, Rajputs and Banias—have a higher share of representations among the representatives, but representations from the OBCs and Dalits are substantial. Among the OBCs, Kurmis (27), Lodhs (15), and Mauryas (12) have a better share. On the other hand, once known as the OBCs’ political party, the SP has a majority of seats of Muslims (34), followed by Yadavs (24), Kurmis (13), Jatavs (10), and Pasis (8). How do we interpret this result?

Compared to the 2017 assembly elections, the BJP comfortably won the majority in the assembly with an enhanced vote share. In 2017, the BJP had 312 seats alone with 39.67% of valid votes. However, its number of seats has come down by 57. On the other hand, the SP had merely 47 seats with 21.82% of valid votes. Thus, the SP has not only gained 64 seats but also enhanced its vote share. Many seats were closely contested and won by the BJP. The BJP won 74 out of 131 closely contested elections, whereas the SP managed to win 55. The SP improved its vote share in Muslim- and Dalit-dominated constituencies and districts, with the highest number of poor.7 The BJP not only retained its base but also increased its presence. Overall, the SP managed its best performance at the cost of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and the Indian National Congress (INC) but was unable to breach the BJP’s fort.

Let us now look at the factors influencing the 2022 outcome in favour of the BJP. The BJP could not communalise the election despite its efforts because of the farmers’ agitation in western UP.8 Amit Shah, the Home Minister of India, campaigned in Kairana and dug up the issue of Hindu palayan (migration). However, this did not work in their favour. Religious leaders and sympathisers of Hindutva reminded the voters that Hindu interests will not be protected if Adityanath or Prime Minister Modi loses. Nevertheless, in west UP, three Jat poster boys of Hindutva, Sangeet Som, Suresh Rana and Umesh Malik, lost their elections. In the sugarcane belt, dominated by Jats, the SP alliance increased its vote share to 41.8% against 43.3% of the BJP.9 However, the BJP could succeed in reducing the reach of the farmers’ agitation up to the Jats, insulating its farmer base from such agitations. For instance, all the eight seats of Lakhimpur Kheri where four farmers were mowed down by a vehicle, were won by the BJP.

In continuation to that, the BJP cam­paig­­ned against the gundagardi (hooliganism), corruption, and favouritism ­tow­ards a particular community under the SP’s rule. Prime Minister Modi warned about the danger of lal topi (red cap, part of the dress of SP activists) in a Gorakhpur rally. Adityanath atta­cked the SP with an allegation of distributing rations to only those who said Abba Jaan (a term used by Muslims to address their fathers). Further, the chief minister escalated the campaign with 80 versus 20 rem­arks, which was understood as polarisation of majority Hindus against minority Muslims.

Furthermore, the most discussed factor, which helped the BJP, was the beneficiary class. However, the politics of beneficiary class is not a new thing in India in general and UP in particular. So do their (beneficiaries) vote for the BJP? In 2019, the party won 62 parliamentary constituencies in the state with 49.97% of valid votes. However, Prashant Trivedi and Shilp Shikha Singh (2022) argue that, “in this election, we saw a new political identity being built around the distribution of such benefits.” Prime Minister Modi himself interacted with the beneficiaries of the government schemes in the last phase of the government. But, there is no denying that the targeted schemes such as housing, free rationing and ­direct benefit transfer (DBT) bolster the support for the BJP.

The BJP’s organisational reach has the potential to take on any issue in any part of India and garner electoral support in other parts of the country. For instance, just before the second phase of the 2022 elections, the hijab controversy in Karnataka played a role in galvanising BJP supporters in UP. The Ukraine and Russia war and the government’s Operation Ganga to bring back the stranded students helped the BJP in the state too.

Lastly, the SP’s strategy during the election bears responsibility for its defeat. Akhilesh Yadav was overconfident about his victory after interpreting the state’s situation as discussed above. Thus, Akhilesh Yadav projected himself and his leadership as only fighting against “baba bulldozer” (a nickname Akhilesh Yadav gave to Adityanath. In fact, that connoted positive energy within the BJP workers as they showed Adityanath having macho image in politics). In west UP, Jayant Chaudhary was given the task of the campaign. In the remaining parts, the SP wanted to credit the victory only to its national secretary. Akhilesh Yadav also failed to manage the bigger share of most backward classes and Dalit votes. The performance of Baba Saheb Vahini formed by the SP was tepid.

Overall, the well-carved out social base across the caste and religious gro­ups remained intact with the BJP. The voters thought that their party (BJP) has the capacity and intention to deliver the development and cultural hegemony in one go. The most important social block supporting the BJP, apart from upper castes was non-Yadav OBCs. Table 1 (p 11) refle­cts the enthusiastic support of Hindu OBCs and Hindu upper castes for the BJP.

If we look at the caste-wise vote preference data from the Lokniti–Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS) post-poll survey of 2022, the BJP has gained substantial support not only from upper castes but also from the OBCs and Jatavs. The OBCs and Jatavs are known for their loyalty to the BSP. The Brahmin support to the BJP was 89% as compared to 83% in 2017. In this election, 87% of Rajput/Thakur supported the BJP against the previous tally of 70%. Out of 12% of Jatavs in the state, only 65% supported the BSP as compared to 87% in 2017. Only 27% of other Dalits voted for the BSP as compared to 44% in 2017. Almost 41% of other Dalits suppor­ted the BJP.

Yadavs and Muslims were the strongest support base of the SP with slightly enh­anced support from Kurmis, Mauryas and Rajbhars. The OBC leaders who deserted the BJP were not able to completely transfer their votes. Dharam Singh Saini and Swami Prasad Maurya lost their seats. The performance of the Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party (SBSP) helped the SP to hold its ground in the seventh phase of the election in eastern UP with SP alliances ­having 27 seats as compared to 11 seats in 2017. Similarly, in the sixth phase, the SP alli­ances won 16 seats as compared to just two seats in 2017. Amethi, Rae Bareli (one seat), Sultanpur, Chitrakoot, Pratapgarh, Kaushambi, Prayagraj, Bara­n­a­bnki, Ayodhya, Bahraich Shrawasti and Gonda went to poll in the fifth phase where SP seats increased from fifth to 22.

Caste(s) and Hindutva

How and why was the BJP able to mobilise the OBCs is a question to be delved upon. Ideological failure of the Bahujan politics, failure of political parties that have emerged from ideological churning of social justice movements, increase in competitive economic aspirations of the community, a right-wing utopia for the Bah­ujans’ aspirations, both economic and cultural, bolstered support to the BJP. However, this was not the case earlier. In the pre- and post-independence period, Dalits and OBCs have had a history of struggling against the caste system and anti-Brahminism in north India, especially in UP and Bihar.

B R Ambedkar visited Lucknow on 25 April 1948 to spread his message and poli­tical foothold in the north. He addre­s­sed a meeting organised by the Scheduled Caste Federation. His last visit was to Agra on 18 March 1956. He made a historic speech. He said,

today I am just like a pole which is supporting huge tents. I am worried about the moment when this pole will not be in its place. I am not keeping good health. I do not know when I may leave you, people. I am not able to find a young man who could defend the interests of these millions of helpless and disheartened people. If some young man comes forward to take up this responsibility I will die in peace.10

Thereafter arrived Kanshi Ram and the social struggle under Dalit Shoshit Samaj Sangharsh Samiti (DS4) and the All India Backward and Minority Communities Employees Federation (BAMCEF) started. It ended in the political victory of the BSP. On the other hand, in 1933 (pre-independence period), Triveni Sangh was an alliance of the OBCs such as Kushwaha, Yadav and Koeri against ­Bihar’s Rajput and Bhumihars. In the post-independence period, R M Lohia highlighting the need for reservation for the OBCs urged for Sansapa ne bandhi gaanth, pichda pave sau me saath (Samyukta Socialist Party has deci­ded, backwards shall get 60 out of 100). After breaking away from the Praja ­Socialist Party and then from the Socialist Party, many OBC leaders emer­ged from its garb.

Karpoori Thakur, Ram Swaroop Verma, Jagdev Prasad, Lalai Singh Yadav, and others were some of the prominent leaders in UP and Bihar. Like their predecessors, they had annihilation of caste as their mission and anti-Brahminism as their means. Ram Swaroop Verma established Arjak Sangh. It was later joined by Jagdev Prasad and Lalai Singh Yadav. In the 1970s, they mobilised the OBCs and Dalits against the caste system and Bra­hm­inism. However, the political impact of the Arjak movement was limited to only certain districts of UP like Allahabad, Kanpur, and some parts of Faizabad. The graded inequality of society had brought Shudras and Ati-Shudras at loggerheads with each other.

The SP and the BSP, which came out of social struggle, entered into practical politics. Sudha Pai (2014) noted that

Mayawati’s strategy of sarvjan politics kept the process of democratisation from moving downwards, bringing the smaller subaltern Dalit groups into the BSP fold and then into mainstream politics. Also, the strategy of using caste as a double-edged sword to break the hold of the ­upper castes and mobilise the lower castes has faded.11

On the other hand, the SP was slowly and gradually reduced to a Yadav-con­trol­led party. A larger chunk of the OBCs and Dalits remained untouched by the SP and BSP, increasing the anxiety for development.

The BJP saw this as an opportunity to be grabbed. Nevertheless, it had been wor­king on the OBC mobilisation since the anti-Babri Masjid agitation. Some of the OBCs like Saini and Lodhi of UP had been early associates of the RSS and BJP. Kalyan Singh, Uma Bharti and Vinay Katiyar along with many others were OBCs. The then BJP general secretary, K N Govindacharya, advocated for social engineering for the goal of Hindutva. They slowly adopted the OBCs and Dalits along with their demands inside and outside of the ­orga­nisation. Culturally, the RSS and BJP pitched most of the OBCs as Kshatriyas with anti-Muslim history. To some, it created close mythological-cultural affi­nity within the Hindu religion with stable and peaceful social relationships.

For instance, Nishad, according to the Hindutva narrative, has a history from Raja Nishad who helped lord Rama when he was in exile. Kewat had helped Ram to cross river Ganga. Valmiki caste traces their lineage as Brahmins, the successors of maharishi (sage) Val­miki. Lodhi was Rajput. Rajbhar, Gond, Maurya, Kurmi, and Yaduvanshi were rulers with Kshatriya status. Similarly, Valmiki, Kewat, and Dom12 were given respectable places in Hindu rule. The Jats’ battle against the Mughals in the Mewat region has been used to widen the social chasm.13 The whole medieval history of Mughals has been rewritten and reinterpreted according to the suitability of the BJP’s agenda for each caste. Thus, the Hindu vote has been created for project Hindutva, which is based on social harmony rather than the constitutional value of social equality.

Democracy: Which Way?

The assembly election result has deeply influenced the meaning of rule of law, governance, minority rights, and democratic space for a weaker section not only within the state but also in the majority party of India. At the macro level, it has justified the social and political ­action of Hindutva and further expedited its consolidation. The disaggregation of the impact of UP’s election will have the following characteristics.

The first visible impact is the appreciation and imitation of the model of instant justice by a strong Hindu Rajya14 (state). The BJP-ruled states have already ­imbibed the elements of Hindu Rajya. For instance, the running of bulldozers over the property of law-violating citizens in UP was used by various other BJP governments to bulldoze the houses and other properties of Muslims. It seems that the rule of law is secondary to the bulldozer. The bulldozer becomes a synonym for good governance and a tool for taming the mleccha.

Second, the election result has expedited the cultural disrobement of Muslims across the country. The controversy around hijab, which came up during the UP election, has now gained wider political currency. Loudspeaker use for Azan (call for prayer) by the Muslims was raised and the right wing used the occasion to recite Hanuman Chalisa in many places. Further, various mosques have been projected as reminiscent of temples destroyed by Muslim rulers in the medieval period. For instance, various Hindutva organisations have laid claim of ownership over Gyanvapi Mosque, Math­ura Mosque, Qutub Minar, Taj Mahal, Jama Masjid, Teele Wali Masjid (Lucknow), etc. These claims have been considered as part of the “Hindu awakening in new India.”

Corollary to the above arguments, it can be safely deduced that today secularism stands obsolete and social justice has been hijacked/manipulated by the current ruling dispensation. Throughout the election campaign and in the after­­math of the result, opposition poli­tical parties have gone in oblivion on the issue of secularism and minority rights. Secular political parties wish for the support of the Muslims but indifference to their causes is nothing but a betrayal. The political parties do not touch upon the issues which are supposedly sensitive to the Hindu sentiment fearing a loss of the Hindu vote bank. The silent revolution and rise of plebeians have met loud counter-revolutions in UP.

Last but not the least is the degradation of the category of citizen itself. Even if the BJP claims of “beneficiary class” support is true, the model of Hindutva governance is not without its flaws. A community or its member or any human does not merely have bare minimum economic needs. A human, especially if they belong to a particular social group, has values, morals, beliefs, and cultural pra­ctices. Separating these from humans is an act of making them a “lesser human.” The idea of beneficiary has reduced the human to its bare minimum.


1 Shawn Rosenberg argued this idea.

2 The word coined by John Keane to describe the people who get elected through democratic process and then kill the very process.

3 It was widely campaigned by the BJP that during the Akhilesh government (2012–17), more electricity supply was provided during Muslims’ religious festivals than Hindu festivals. Akhilesh Yadav rebuked the campaign by showing the data. But, the BJP was able to capture the public imagination of UP.

Indian Express, July 2021,

6 If we calculate sectoral contribution in GSDP through gross value addition (GVA), the share will further go down.

7 See, in detail, Nihalani, Ramani, Varghese and Radhakrishnan’s “BJP Redux in a Bipolar Election.”

8 If we look at the combined poll strategy of three elections (2014, 2017 and 2019), voters were blitzed with the heady mix of Gujarat model of development with nationalism and Hindutva. Manjur Ali (2017) argued about the relationship of development and Hindutva and communal electioneering by the BJP. The strategy has paid off electorally. In 2014, the BJP won 71 parliamentary constituencies out of 80 with 42.63% of valid votes. In 2019, the party won 62 parliamentary constituencies in the state with 49.97% of valid votes. If one looks at the percent of votes secured over the total valid votes polled in 2014 and 2019 at the national level, they were 31.34% and 37.69%, respectively. The BJP got massive electoral support from UP in a general election as compared to the national average of valid votes.

9 Same as note 7.



12 Dom is the lowest of all castes. They engage in different kinds of work such as basket weaving. The Doms of Banaras were featured in the story of Raja Harishchandra. In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, Dom Raja, Jagdish Chaudhary, was one of the proposers of Modi’s candidature from the constituency.

13 In the 2022 assembly elections, home minister Amit Shah, while campaigning in UP, told the Jats that they and the BJP have a history of fighting the Mughals. Later on, the home minister issued clarification on the statement.

14 A majority of Hindus have strong perception that the rule by Yogi Adityanath is Hindu in nature and will take care of their interests.


Ali, Manjur (2017): “The Role of Three C’s—Caste, Class and Communalism in Uttar Pra­desh Assembly Election,” Vikalp, 2 April.

Dahl, Robert A (2005): “What Political Institutions Does Large-scale Democracy Require,” Political Science Quarterly, Vol 120, No 2, pp 187–97.

Diamond, Larry (2015): “Facing up to the Democratic Recession,” Journal of Democracy, Vol 26, No 1, pp 141–55.

Joshi, Seema (2004): “Tertiary Sector-driven Gro­wth in India,” Economic & Political Weekly, Vol 39, No 37, pp 4175–78.

Pai, Sudha (2014): “Sarvjan Samaj Party?” ­Indian Express, 6 May.

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Updated On : 11th Jun, 2022
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