How a Dalit Woman's Gang Rape in Rajasthan Has Become Tool to Mobilise Castes for Political Gains in UP
By News18 14-May-2019
But the debate, for both BJP and the SP-BSP gathbandhan, is less about the law and order situation and more about managing caste calculations on the ground.
If before 2017 UP assembly elections, “bahu beti ki izzat” was more about the larger Hindu consolidation for the BJP against alleged “minority dominance” in western UP after Muzaffarnagar riots were allegedly sparked by a case of sexual harassment, in 2019, it’s the gang rape of a Dalit woman in Alwar district of Rajasthan that is being used for caste-based mobilisation by the BJP and the opposition alliance.
Although the gang rape case is of Rajasthan, Prime Minister Narendra Modi decided to demand answers from BSP president Mayawati in Uttar Pradesh. And Mayawati, who is so keenly focused on her electoral campaign in UP, also took out time to accuse the Congress government in Rajasthan of trying to hush up the case.
If it’s not concern over crime against women that prompted the two to bring the issue into mainstream political discourse, was it larger political concerns instead?
The answer lies in the electoral political realities of eastern UP. Like the 14 seats of Phase 6, polling for which was held on May 12, the remaining 13 seats going to poll on May 19 can also be electorally defined by the large sections of lesser prominent backward and dalit castes.
These are those most backward and non-Jatav Dalit castes who may not dominate any particular seat on their own but collectively form a large voting bloc.
Unlike in west and central UP region where either the Chamars among the Dalits or else Yadavs or Jats among the OBC’s singularly dominate the specific region, eastern UP is more about complexities of demographic realities.
Constituencies going to polls in the last leg also include Prime Minister Modi’s own Varanasi and the prestige seat of Gorakhpur.
Gorakhpur is the most defining example of the importance of these numerically small but collectively significant most backward and Dalit castes.
One of the strongest citadels for BJP and UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath, the party lost the seat to the SP-BSP gathbandhan in 2018 bypolls. This embarrassing defeat came primarily because of a much smaller player, the Nishad Party.
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