Uttar Pradesh is one of India’s largest state both in terms of territory and population, unfortunately, is also amongst the poorest states of the country. More than 80 percent of the population of the state is Hindu by religion as per the 2011 Census, which is divided further into the lines of; General, Schedule Caste (SC), Schedule Tribe (ST), Other Backward Castes (OBCs,), and various sub-castes under the castes.
All of this makes Uttar Pradesh one of the most complex state from the country; politically, socially and economically. The decision of whom to vote for which political party or candidate is in this way not a cakewalk for the electorate. Politics based on caste, class, religion and ethnicity is the hallmark of Uttar Pradesh elections. The presence of future representatives who are involved in criminal cases makes the process of decision making of whom to vote for more complex for the voters.
It is generally proclaimed that caste is a significant factor when it comes to voter behaviour in Uttar Pradesh. As it is more likely for the electorate to vote for a candidate of her/his caste. However, most of the times individuals belonging to the same caste are fielded by the political parties to in cash the caste factor associated with the psyche of the voter, which in this way does not become the sole factor to vote. Other important factors except the caste factor are therefore gaining prominence among the electorate such as; development, transparency, and good governance, among others.
The elections of 2014 Lok Sabha with that the assembly elections of Uttar Pradesh in 2017 provided Bhartiya Janta Party with huge success as it received 72 from 80 Lok Sabha seats and in the assembly 325 from 404 seats. The anti-incumbency and the communal polarisation was attributed to the reason behind the success of the BJP in both the elections.
It is a well-established fact that Uttar Pradesh is the state which sets the tone for national politics whether it is left, right or centre related ideological debates, social and religious issues like Ayodha and Ram Mandir, the farmer protests against the three farm laws, even the narrative building of the term ‘love-jihad’ or the recent remark of ‘Abba-Jaan’ from CM Yogi Adityanath, all of this carries significant relevance when it comes to national politics.
However, the real issues of the populace are different which unfortunately does not make enough politics in the state nor at the national level. Though there have been claims of some form of progress and reduction in inequality in the state. Uttar Pradesh is considered as worst performing state when it comes to the UN Human Development Index for 2017, published in 2018.
As per the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation named ‘Household Social Consumption in its chapter that was released in December 2019 with that another from the NITI Aayog named ‘School Education Quality Index’, published in October 2019, which measured the best performing states when it comes to participation of girl children, in both the reports Uttar Pradesh was at the bottom.
Lawlessness, dacoity, communalism, caste killings, gender-based violence, feudal-agrarian exploitation, unemployment as well as underemployment, migrant labourers living a sub-human life that was highlighted during the Covid-19 pandemic, comes under the real issues of the Uttar Pradesh populace.
In the upcoming Uttar Pradesh elections we hope real issues taking prominence which carries a genuine impact on the routine life of the residents rather than the artificially created amongst which communalism is the one.
(Vrinda Khanna has been the Research Assistant for the title).