Samajwadi Party (S.P.) chief Akhilesh Yadav said that he felt like an untouchable after he was prevented from participating in a religious ceremony last week. Akhilesh was shown black flags when he tried to visit the Pitambara Devi temple in Lucknow.

A protester said that he was against Akhilesh Yadav visiting the religious ceremony because his party colleague Swami Prasad Maurya had insulted the ‘Ramcharitmanas’, a sacred text. Since then a hoarding has been installed outside the Lucknow offices of the S.P. that says ‘Garv Se Kaho Hum Shudra Hain’ or ‘be proud to say we are untouchables’, also called Dalit. Akhilesh too has rent the air by repeating the same slogan, followed by countless S.P. workers.

S.P. leader Maurya has spearheaded a campaign against a few offending lines found in the ‘Ramcharitmanas’ that refer to Dalits and women in a derogatory manner. Maurya is in fact gearing up his act for impressing the Dalit voter in the next Lok Sabha elections to be held in 2024.

Dalits total about 21 percent of U.P’s population of over 200 million people out of which more than half belong to the Jatav community of Schedule Caste people. The Jatavs are traditional supporters of Dalit leader and chief of the Bahujan Samaj Party (B.S.P.) Mayawati.

Mayawati shot off a series of tweets in reference to the Ramcharitmanas controversy blaming both the ruling party and the S.P. for being interested only in political gains. “The BJP's political identity of creating new controversies for narrow political and electoral interests, spreading ethnic and religious hatred, creating hysteria, and religious conversions etc are well known. But the same political colour of the S.P., under the guise of the 'Ramcharitmanas', is sad and unfortunate,” Mayawati tweeted.

However, Maurya seems to be S.P’s man responsible for juggling with the complicated caste combination in the state to favour the party in all electoral battles of numbers.” The ruling party considers people like me and other Yadavs who belong to the backward community an untouchable,” Akhilesh told the media outside the temple on the banks of the River Gomti.

Spokesperson of the ruling party in Lucknow, Rakesh Tripathi said that S.P. leaders like Maurya disrespect the Hindu religion and Hindu saints and that hurts the sentiment of believers. And that their leader Akhilesh Yadav does nothing to stop them from making comments like the Ramacharitmanas is disrespectful towards women, and people belonging to the Dalit and other backward communities.

In the past the S.P. has depended on electoral victories with support from a combination of 20 percent Yadavs and 20 percent Muslims. Party founder and Akhilesh’s father Mulayam Singh Yadav had artfully kept people belonging to different faiths and castes happy under the socialist umbrella of the party that had professed social justice for all citizens.

The present day leadership of the S.P. seems incapable of winning the trust of a cross section of voters and therefore often resorts to gimmicks in a bid to stay in power.

The Hindutva politics of splitting society into the ‘other’ by the ruling party has further fractured past voting patterns. The upper caste Hindu voter totals about 20 percent of the population in U.P., Other Backward Castes (OBCs) including Yadav, Lodhi, Kurmi, Maurya and others are nearly 45 percent, Dalits more than 20 percent and Muslim 20 percent.

None of these communities vote en bloc anymore and have made life difficult for politicians who must keep up with the unpredictable whim of the voter who is sulking big time as decades of promises of providing health facilities, education, homes, infrastructure and jobs have remained unfulfilled.

Politics Reduced To Numbers

The politics of U.P. resembles a confused cocktail without fizz today because it has been reduced to a game of numbers by all political parties. Ideas of social justice are forgotten. Powerful public figures like socialist leader Ram Manohar Lohia and Dalit leader Babasaheb Ambedkar are forgotten. To win elections, present day Socialists and Ambedkarites will do anything from lying to cheating.

How many so-called Socialist politicians today remember the passionate belief of Lohia that the practice of caste had brought the nation to utter imbecility. Like Lohia, Ambedkar too had agreed that caste and nation are contradictory to each other.

Wooing With Awards

Despite the rich intellectual legacy left by both Ambedkar and Lohia, politics is reduced today as a means to make short term gains for individual politicians without much benefit to a majority of the citizens.

While the S.P. is seen to chase Dalit votes, the ruling party is eyeing the Yadav and votes of OBC communities. Mayawati has kind of resumed playing footsie with Muslim voters.

The S.P. founder and three time U.P. Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav is no more, but the ruling party has honoured the late socialist with a Padma Vibhushan. After all Mulayam Singh had championed the cause of social justice like few other politicians.

He was a leader of the masses loved by people belonging to different faiths and classes. He had put into practice many ideals of his mentor Lohia.

Mulayam Singh more than deserves the honour bestowed upon him posthumously but is the intention to remember him not intended to also attract Yadav votes in the state?

The Budget

When Dimple Yadav, MP was asked her views on the Budget 2023 presented in Parliament by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitaraman she said that it was not people friendly.

The S.P. parliamentarian found the budget disappointing. She said, “Promises are made to benefit citizens in the future. Announcements have been made keeping the elections in mind. There is nothing in the budget that helps citizens today”.

Yadav found nothing in the Budget that was of any use to farmers, or to the long line of jobless youngsters in the country. The Railways are ignored and not a word about bringing down prices of essential commodities.

The ruling party gives no indication of plans to improve infrastructure, economic growth, social security, health and education facilities in the country that stand neglected in India today.