Aiming at 2014 elections, SP plays the reservation card
By opposing the Constitution Amendment Bill on reservation, SP is building it's base among the state govt employees
Virendra Nath Bhatt
Is it the beginning of the end of the bonhomie between the Congress and the Samajwadi Party? Union Steel Minister Beni Prasad Verma's criticism of Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Mulayam Singh Yadav. followed by SP’s opposition to the Constitution Amendment Bill seeking legally sustainable amendment in the Constitution for providing reservation in promotion to the SC/ST officers. These are being interpreted as clear signals that the ruling party in Uttar Pradesh is bracing itself for the 2014 general election.
Congress sources said that the political compulsions before the party such as the Presidential and Vice-Presidential elections and the party expecting support of the SP for passing the important bills pending in Parliament forced the party to keep a low profile. “With the law and order situation declining rapidly in the state and over half-a-dozen communal riots in important towns like Lucknow, Allahabad, Bareilly and Mathura, Congress can no longer be the mute spectator’’, said a state Congress leader adding, “if the Congress wishes to repeat its performance in 2009 Parliament polls, then we have no option but wage a full scale political war with the SP and the BJP at the earliest.”
During the last five months, the Congress-led UPA government met the long standing demand of the UP government for the sanction of a special economic package for the development projects in the state and a package of Rs 54,000 crore was sanctioned. While the Mayawati's government had placed a similar demand for the sanction of special package of Rs 80,000 crore for the UP, it was denied by the Centre.
“Congress se hamara kabhi koi prem nahi tha (We were never in love with the Congress). And we never expect from the Congress to do anything good for us,” said SP spokesman Rajendra Chowdhary. “The UPA has done no favour to UP by sanctioning the special economic package. It’s no obligation, we live in a federal polity where the Centre has to consider the genuine demands of the state. Moreover, the legitimate demands of resources for development of a state like UP with 20 crore population cannot be ignored’’, Chowdhary added.
SP sources said the party has so far finalised candidates for close to 30 seats out of total 80 Lok Sabha seats in UP, which barring a few, includes most of the sitting members. The sitting as well as new candidates have been given green signal by the party to start working for the 2014 polls.
“Our preparations are on for the 2014 polls and as the things stand today, SP will go to polls on its own strength and will win at least 60 seats. No government at the Centre would be formed in 2014 without our support’’, Chowdhary claimed adding that “the national executive of the party will meet some time in September where the candidates and the strategy for the 2014 Lok Sabha polls will be discussed’’.
The Samajwadi party is also upbeat over the groundswell of support from the state employees, urban and rural local bodies and boards over its stand against the reservation in promotion for the SC/ST officers. In the all party meeting convened by PM Manmohan Singh on 21 August in Delhi, SP was the only party that opposed the Constitution amendment for ensuring reservation in promotion for the SC/ST officers. The Akhilesh Yadav government has already implemented the April 27 Supreme Court judgement where the court had quashed the reservation in promotion. The SP government with its master stroke has warmed the hearts of the state employees from the upper caste, OBCs and minorities as all were adversely affected by the reservation in promotion for the SC/ST officers. The confederation of state employees spearheading the battle against the reservation in promotion has already pledged its support for the SP in 2014 parliament elections. UP has over 20 lakh state employees.
Virendra Nath Bhatt is a Special Correspondent with Tehelka.