Elezioni in UP. La casta non conta più?

Mi sembra che gli ultimi risultati elettorali segnalino, oltre a un'ulteriore regionalizzazione del consenso, anche (e finalmente) il de profundis alle analisi di "caste and politics" che hanno occupato enorme spazio nella sociologia politica classica, nonché nei vertici dei partiti maggiori. Si vota sui temi economici, e l'appartenenza di casta conta sempre meno.

Qui di seguito un'analisi giornalistica (del 17 marzo) sul voto nell'Uttar Pradesh

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'Third Force' rises in Indian politics
Asia Times. By Siddharth Srivastava

NEW DELHI - Fresh from leading the Samajwadi Party (SP) to an absolute majority in elections and sworn in this week as Uttar Pradesh's new chief minister, Akhilesh Yadav has wasted no time to stamp his authority by replacing officials of the earlier Mayawati government with old loyalists.

Akhilesh, who at 38 is the youngest and 33rd chief minister of India's most politically important state, was credited with steering the party to trounce the ruling Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), led by Mayawati, who goes by one name and resigned from her post on March 7 after completing four terms in office. The SP won 224 of the 403 seats in the state assembly, leaving Mayawati with only 80 seats.

The results have underlined the emergence of new provincial players in Indian politics, with national parties the Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party failing to attract voters who want leaders who can deliver on clean governance, law and order and who have a forward-looking development agenda. The son of SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, Akhilesh took the oath of office on Thursday in Lucknow and immediately reshuffled officials at the chief minister's office, the seat of power in India's most populous province. The choice of cabinet ministers showed that the young Yadav did not fight shy of including seniors in his team, according to the Times of India, which said many were surprised when senior leader Ambika Chowdhury was named, despite the fact that he had lost his seat.

The question now is whether Akhilesh will deliver. Five years ago, it was Mayawati who won an absolute majority in Uttar Pradesh riding on the votes of dalits, considered the lowest castes. This time, the SP's appeal to the Muslims and upper castes helped it see of the BSP, BJP and Congress.

The Congress campaign was led aggressively by party scion Rahul Gandhi, 41. The Gandhi family, Rahul's mother Sonia, sister Priyanka, her two kids and husband Robert Vadra also campaigned, but the people clearly want more than the aura and bewitching smiles of India's top political dynasty.

Akhilesh has promised to tackle criticisms that marred his father Mulayam Singh Yadav's previous stints as chief minister of UP, pledging to instill efficient governance, weed out leaders with criminal links and to push for development. UP continues to be one of the most backward states in the country unlike others such as Maharashtra, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Karnatak. The people of UP believed Akhilesh and have given the young man a chance.

In contrast, Gandhi's party leads a federal coalition government headed by Manmohan Singh that has been found wanting in several major corruption scandals. This factor would certainly have played in the minds of the UP voters.

The Congress and BJP also got it wrong in UP by playing up the communal card to polarize voters, with the former promising job quotas to Muslims, a matter trumpeted by the latter as against the interests of Hindus.

The ugly politics of the 1990s saw several pitched BJP-Congress battles in UP fought on communal agendas. Clearly the electorate has learned not to trust such identity politics to suit narrow ends. Short cuts to enticing voters by drumming up emotional issues are not going to work.

However, over the last three years Mayawati's government has been pronounced in its pro-dalit tilt, most notably in the symbolic building of hundreds of statues in massive parks dedicated to dalit leaders including her own self. This combined with major issues of law and order and corruption scandals, resulted in Muslim and upper caste voters opting for the SP.

While Mayawati's development record has been praised in some quarters, she has also faced accusations of wasting state coffers on gargantuan parks. Still the dalits, among the most exploited communities, continue to be her diehard supporters. She is still their "behenji'' or elder sister. But, this was not enough to win her the election.

Upper caste and Muslim votes were cast in favor of the SP though its traditional support base has been the "backward" Yadavs, an umbrella group of traditionally non-elite castes. Akhilesh clearly succeeded where Rahul and Mayawati failed.

While caste and communal politics do play a role in Indian politics, overarching benchmarks of growth, jobs, corruption-free institutions, quality health and education services and an impartial police administration are the most important factor, as the UP vote demonstrates. If Akhilesh manages to meet these goals, there is every reason that he will stay in power.

This trend has defined leaders such as Nitish Kumar in Bihar, Narender Modi in Gujarat, Sheila Dixit in Delhi, Naveen Patnaik in Orissa and Tarun Gogoi in Assam.

After UP, some of the regional parties sense a “Third Front” federal government taking shape without the BJP and Congress. Others states where the provincial outfits have emerged strongly include Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Orissa, Bihar, Maharashtra and West Bengal.

The Manmohan government is clearly struggling. It will need to rely on regional parties such as Trinamool Congress of West Bengal and SP to push through key reform proposals. It is a tricky situation as allowing New Delhi to do well undermines the position of the regional outfits.

The BJP is also in disarray and has not been able to find a national leader of the stature of former prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee. As the situation develops, some observers are predicting a mid-term general election well ahead of the scheduled vote in 2014.

Siddharth Srivastava is a New Delhi-based journalist. He can be reached at sidsri@yahoo.com

(Copyright 2012 Asia Times Online (Holdings) Ltd. All rights reserved. Please contact us about sales, syndication and republishing.)


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