he recent assembly elections have, as always, thrown up some surprises. The biggest among them is the sweep by the Samajwadi party led by Mulayam Singh Yadav in UP and the complete rout of the Rahul Gandhi led Congress. Mayawati, another victim of the SP wave, who spent the better part of her tenure as CM erecting statues of herself and her elephants, is now plotting her next move towards the Rajya Sabha. Meanwhile, the Congress government in Uttarakhand is going to be led by Vijay Bahuguna, whose sister Rita Bahuguna heads up the Congress in neighboring UP. We have barely skimmed the surface of politics in two states and you have deeply entrenched political families—the Gandhis, the Yadavs, the Bahugunas, and Mayawati (who is more than a handful all by herself!)—battling it out for supremacy.
There has been plenty of optimism-laden talk about the passing of the baton to a new generation in UP, as Netaji Mulayam Singh Yadav makes way for son Akhilesh Yadav. No matter who is in charge, the pedigree is impossible to change and so is the baggage of history. The Samajwadi party is known for its “goondagiri.” This was apparent almost immediately after the victory, when SP supporters went berserk and assaulted their opponents. Mulayam Singh Yadav is possibly headed for a plum role in the UPA government, emboldened by his mandate at the state-level.
Are all these signs of progress? Is this state of our democracy supposed to make us proud? If you disregard the fact that we have elections today, how different is this from the days when Kings and Queens ruled different parts of our country? The headlines could very well have been, “Queen Mayawati voted out of power, King Mulayam crowns young Prince to be King and heads to Delhi.”