Women, SC & ST in Phase-I of Assam Elections

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Tilak Jha

How ‘free and fair’ are we when it comes to bringing forward those who have been left behind in the electoral process? Here is an analysis of the Assam assembly electoral politics with regards to three important section of Assamese population i.e. the women, the SCs and the STs.

A total of 529 candidates are in the electoral fray in the first phase of Assam assembly elections 2011. This includes 42 female and 487 male candidates. While 42 might not sound very insignificant number, it is insignificant when seen as a percentage of total candidates fighting election. Women are almost half of the population of Assam and the 42 candidates out of 529 who are fighting the election in the first phase is a miniscule 7.6 percent of those contesting elections. The reality of the break up of 42 is even more difficult to accept.

Caste wise there are 418 general, 35 SC and 76 ST candidates in the first phase of Assam assembly election. The ticket distribution in the first phase suggests that SC and ST candidates form respectively 6.6 and 14.36 percentage of the total number of candidates running for a seat. The percentage of SCs and STs in the population of Assam, according to Census 2001, was 6.9 and 12.4 percent respectively.

Due to reservation of seats in case of SCs and STs, they do get a fair representation in terms of those who will form the final house. Sadly, reservation is the only way we have chosen to bring SC/ST forward.

Of the 126 seats in Assam assembly, a total of 28 seats (9 for SC and 19 for ST) have been reserved for the SCs and STs. And out of the 62 Assembly Constituencies of eastern and southern Assam going to polls on April 4, 2011 in the first phase, 12 seats (3 for SC and 9 for ST) are reserved.

Reservation at least leaves the SC/ST represented by someone from among their own. But without reservation women remain an ignored lot. A deeper analysis reveals that the figure of 42 is far from fair.

BJP and the ruling Congress gave 10 tickets each to women candidates. It amounts to almost 15 percent of the 62 seats going under vote, far below the 33 percent reservation for women in central and state legislatures that both these parties support. BJP has given 3 of the 10 ticket to women SC/ST candidates. Congress has distributed 2 tickets to women SC/ST candidates.

But the disparity can be gauged from the fact that 30 out of 62 Assembly Constituencies do not have any women candidate in the fray. Among the rest, the largest segment of women candidates are of independents i.e. 9 of the 42.

The regional parties who raise the greatest hue and cry whenever women’s reservation bill is brought in the Parliament are worse in terms of being fair to women folk. Asom Gana Parishad gave just three tickets to women candidates this time in the phase 1 of 2011 election. All the three women candidates of AGP come from SC/ST background. But the real bottom has been hit by Badruddin Ajmal’s All India United Democratic Front which didn’t find one women candidate competent enough to be given a ticket.

Again while the Congress and the BJP have given tickets to 10 women candidates, Congress has given 6 of the 10 tickets from constituencies where it won last time. Congress won 36 out of the 62 assembly seats which will vote on April 4 in 2006 assembly elections.

The percentage of SC and ST candidates might be proportionate to their overall population of Assam but that doesn’t represent social equity. Most of the SC/ST candidates are from SC/ST seats. The number of SC/ST candidates fighting from a general seat doesn’t represent their coming forward or blurring of caste identities as far as elections are concerned. Out of the 50 general seats, (12 of the 62 seats going to poll in the 1st phase are reserved), only 19 seats have any SC/ST candidate trying their luck. 31 general seats have no SC/ST candidate, not even as an independent. In this particular regard, independent SC/ST candidate again lead the way by fighting from 8 general seats. BJP gave 5 tickets to SC/ST candidates to fight election from general seats, albeit BJP didn’t win any of the five seats in 2006 assembly election. Congress didn’t give any ticket to any SC/ST candidate to fight election from general seat.

May be, we as a nation, need much soul searching and actually start doing something to ensure that free and fair doesn’t remain a phrase quoted in books and speeches.

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Two phase election in Assam from May 28



  • Jagatheesan Chandrasekharan

    The BSP’s entire politics is ekla chalo, no pre-poll alliance.
    All the doles announced to more than 85 % of the poor by Political Parties amounts to less
    than 15% of the total budget of the state. More than 85% of the budget will be
    enjoyed by 15% population of rich politicians and capitalists after cornering
    votes from the poor and the black money will be deposited in Foreign Banks to
    benefit those countries. For equal distribution of wealth, vote BSP
    DMK eyes SC/ST votes with freebies

    CHENNAI: Ramayi, a Scheduled Caste daily wage earner of Thandarai village in Cheyyur assembly constituency in Kanchipuram, is excited that her ramshackle hut will soon become a brick-and-cement house. The government has promised Rs 75,000 worth of construction materials to her, and she has a certificate to prove it. Ramayi is thankful for the Re 1 rice scheme, too, and soon hopes to own land. “We dalits have never owned any land in our lives; it’s always been the Vanniars who have had the right. That will all change,” she says.

    Through its welfare shemes, the DMK front has made a determined pitch for SC/ST votes, and hopes to win a significant majority of the 44 constituencies reserved for SCs in the state. The party is contesting 24 of the reserved constituencies, and sharing the rest with VCK (8), Congress (10) and PMK (2). Karunanidhi himself is contesting from Tiruvarur, which was a reserved constituency until recently and has a SC/ST population of over 30%.

    Needhirajan, convenor of Tamil Nadu Untouchability Eradication Front, however, says that many of the promises are just propaganda and the benefits haven’t really reached SC/STs. “Little or no land has been given to SC/STs by the DMK government, as promised under the panchami land scheme,” says Needhirajan.

    In the 2010-2011 budget, the DMK government allocated Rs 3,800 crores (19%) of total state expenditure for SC/ST schemes – equivalent to the share of the SC population in the state. But critics say this is just an accounting ruse, as the figure includes money spent in general schemes.

    But Tamil Nadu SC/STs were not always known for voting on issues. They, as fans of a heroic MGR in movies, were once considered a reliable votebank of AIADMK.

    Old loyalties still survive to some extent. Yazhan Aathi, a school teacher in Ambur, recalls that worshipping heroes – especially from movies – is still common among SC/STs, and has helped Vijayakanth get SC/ST support. But Aathi says that SC/STs haven’t been given responsibilities in the DMDK organization. “SC/STs are no more satisfied with just token representation,” he says.

    Seeking economic and social progress, SC/STs had started looking beyond traditional parties in the late 1990s. At that time, many Tamil Nadu villages turned into battle grounds of caste conflict as young and educated SC/STs started confronting upper castes. Pallars, concentrated in the southern districts, such as Namakkal, Rajayapalayam, Madurai and Sivaganga, tangled with the Thevars, while Paraiyars had conflicts with Vanniars in the northern districts, such as Vellore, Cuddalore, Kanchipuram and Chennai.

    Leveraging the conflicts, Krishnaswamy emerged as a leader of the pallars, and Thirumavalavan became a leader of the paraiyars. Pallars are mostly small farmers or landless labourers, while Paraiyars are mostly daily wage earners.

    Arundhatiyars, the third Scheduled caste in the state that accounts for 3% of the state population, are the most marginalized even among the SC/STs. Living in western Tamil Nadu, such as in Coimbatore and Dharmapuri, Arundhatiyars are oppressed by Kongu Vellalars, says TSS Mani, an observer of SC/ST politics. “They are upset that the DMK front includes Kongu Vellalar Party,” says Mani.

    The two main SC/ST forces that have emerged in the state are now in alliance with parties representing their principal adversaries. The SC/ST VCK is now in the same boat as the vanniar PMK in the DMK front, and Krishnaswamy’s Pudhiya Thamizhagam has been bargaining for seats with the AIADMK — once seen as representing thevars. Activists defend these alliances and say they would help SC/STs make progress without conflicts. “The PMK-VCK alliance will promote social harmony,” says Vanni Arasu, a VCK leader.

    BSP to contest from all constituencies

    The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) will contest from all 234 Assembly constituencies in the State on its own strength, its national general secretary Suresh Mane said on Tuesday.
    He told reporters that the party was looking at long-term political gains and would not limit itself to contesting from a few seats as part of an alliance.
    It contested from 164 seats in the 2006 Assembly elections, polling in 1.76 per cent of votes.
    List of 51 candidates
    This increased marginally in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections.
    BSP State president K. Armstrong will contest from Kolathur; general secretaries P. Jeevan Kumar from Mudukulathur; K. Vijayan (Mayilam) and P. Rajappa (Pallavaram), Mr. Mane said, releasing the first list of 51 candidates.
    The list of candidates for other constituencies will be released later.
    BSP to contest all 140 seats in Kerala
    Kozhikode: The BSP will contest all 140 constituences in Kerala for April 13 assembly polls and will not have any understanding with any party or alliances, party’s National Secretary Pramod Kureel said on Saturday.
    The decision was taken under the direction of BSP President and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati, he told reporters.
    “In this election, BSP, by achieving 10 per cent vote share, will establish itself as prominent political player in Kerala,” he claimed.

    “The state has been ruled either by LDF or UDF all these years but it is a sad state of affairs that 50 per cent of Kerala’s population is without safe drinking water, roads and other basic infrastructure”, he alleged.
    Mayawati will campaign in Kerala for three days, he said.
    The names of 38 candidates were also announced at the press conference. Earlier, the party had announced the list of 70 candidates from Kochi on Saturday
    About The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP)
    Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) or Majority People’s Party is one of the only five prominent national political parties of India, which is the largest democracy of the world.
    Brief Introduction :
    The ideology of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) is “Social Transformation and Economic Emancipation” of the “Bahujan Samaj “, which comprises of the Scheduled Castes (SCs), the Scheduled Tribes (STs), the Other Backward Classes (OBCs) and Religious Minorities such as Sikhs, Muslims, Christians, Parsis and Buddhists and account for over 85 per cent of the country’s total population.
    The people belonging to all these classes have been the victims of the “Manuwadi” system in the country for thousands of years, under which they have been vanquished, trampled upon and forced to languish in all spheres of life. In other words, these people were deprived even of all those human rights, which had been secured for the upper caste Hindus under the age-old “Manuwadi Social System”.
    Among the great persons (Mahapurush) belonging to “Bahujan Samaj”, who fought courageously and with commitment against the brutal and oppressive Manuwadi system, for providing a level playing field to the downtrodden to help move forward in their lives with “self-respect” and at par with the upper castes Hindus, especially Baba Saheb Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar’s socio-political campaign later proved to be very effective in this direction.
    Though the contributions of leaders of the downtrodden communities like Mahatma Jyotiba Phule, Chhatrapati Shahuji Maharaj, Narayana Guru and Periyar E. V. Ramaswami have been immense in the fight against the obnoxious Manuwadi system, but the struggle of Baba Saheb Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar, who was born in Scheduled Caste community, and that of Manyawar Kanshi Ram Ji later proved to be greatly effective and pregnant with far-reaching consequences.
    Besides waging a spirited campaign against the Manuwadi Social System, Dr. Ambedkar instilled consciousness among not only the Dalits, but also among those belonging to other backward groups, which continue to be victimised and trampled under this oppressive and unjust Manuvadi Social System.
    By virtue of his pivotal role in the framing of the Indian Constitution, these groups were given a number of rights in the Constitution on a legal basis to lead a life of dignity and self-respect. But he was fully conscious of the fact that these exploited sections of the society would not be able to get the full legal rights as long as the governments would remain dominated by the Manuwadi persons and parties.
    That’s why Dr. Ambedkar, during his lifetime, had counseled the “Bahujan Samaj” that if they wanted to fully enjoy the benefits of their legal rights, as enshrined in the Constitution, they would have to bond together all the Bahujan groups on the basis of unity and fraternity, bring them on a strong political platform and capture the “Master Key” of political power. This was to be the modus operandi for the formation of Bahujan Governments at the Centre and in States. Only such governments could enforce all the constitutional and legal rights of the “Bahujan Samaj” and provide opportunities to its People to move forward in all spheres of life besides enabling them to lead a life of “self-respect”.
    Keeping in view this observation and advice of Dr. Ambedkar, respected Manyawar Kanshi Ram Ji founded the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), with the help of his associates, on April 14, 1984. For many years while he enjoyed good health, he prepared the “Bahujan Samaj” to secure the “master key” of political power, which opens all the avenues for social and economic development.
    However, being a diabetic and host of other serious ailments, his health did not permit him to lead an active political life for too long. On December 15, 2001, Manyawar Kanshi Ram Ji, while addressing a mammoth rally of the BSP at the Lakshman Mela Ground in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh on the banks of the river Gomti, declared Kumari (Miss) Mayawati Ji, then the lone Vice-President of the Party, as his only political heir and successor.
    Moreover, on September 15, 2003, Manyawar Kanshi Ram Ji’s health suffered a serious setback, and the entire responsibility of the Party fell on the shoulders of Bahan (Sister) Kumari Mayawati Ji. Later, on September 18, 2003, the Party, through a consensus and in keeping with its Constitution, made her its National President.
    Being the National President of a National Party, Kumari Mayawati Ji in her address sought to assure that “I would like to make aware people of the country that my Party, the BSP, is committed to not only improving the socio-economic conditions of people belonging to the “Bahujan Samaj” but also of the poor among the upper caste Hindus, small and medium farmers, traders and people engaged in other professions.
    But people of the Manuwadi mindset, even if they are in different fields of life, are acting under a conspiracy to project the image of the BSP as if it is confined to championing the cause of Dalits alone and is opposed to the upper castes Hindus and other sections of the society. Also, the BSP has nothing to do with the issues of national interest. However, on the basis of facts, I can say with firmness and conviction that all such talks are a bunch of lies, baseless and devoid of facts and are nothing else more than a slanderous campaign of the status quoits Manuwadi forces. The policies, objectives and ideology of the BSP are crystal clear and attuned to the welfare of the entire country and its vast population.
    On the basis of its ideology, the BSP wants to sound the death-knell of the “Manuwadi Social System” based on the ‘Varna’ (which is an inequality social system) and striving hard and honestly for the establishment of an egalitarian and “Humanistic Social System” in which everyone enjoys JUSTICE (social, economic and political) and EQUALITY (of status and of opportunity) as enshrined in the PREAMBLE of the Constitution.
    Further, our Party Constitution very clearly states that “the chief aim and objective of the Party shall be to work as a revolutionary social and economic movement of change with a view to realise, in practical terms, the supreme principles of universal justice, liberty, equality and fraternity enunciated in the Constitution of India.”
    Such a social system is wholly in the overall interest of the Country and all sections of the society too. If, in this missionary work of “Social Transformation”, people of the upper castes (Hindus) shed their Manuwadi mindset and join hands with the Bahujan Samaj, our Party, with all due respect and affection would embrace them. Such people will be given suitable positions in the Party organisation in accordance with their ability, dedication and efficiency, and there would be no distinction between them and those belonging to the Bahujan Samaj. Also they will be fielded as Party candidates in the parliamentary and assembly elections, and if our government is formed, they will also be given ministerial berths.
    These are not hollow talks because the BSP in the past, during the three successive governments, had implemented all such promises. In Uttar Pradesh, Ms. Mayawati government was formed four times, and on each occasion, upper castes people were inducted in the Council of Ministers. Even an upper caste person was appointed to an all-important post of Advocate General. They were given the Party ticket for Lok Sabha and Assembly elections and also nominated to the Parliament’s Upper Chamber i.e. Rajya Sabha and state Legislative Councils.
    In addition, upper caste people have been given high posts in the Party organisation. For example, Mr. Satish Chandra Mishra was nominated to the Rajya Sabha and also was made national general secretary of the Party. In similar fashion, other castes of the Upper Castes (Hindus) were promoted.
    Thus, keeping in view all these facts, it would be injudicious and fallacious to hold that the BSP works for the welfare of a particular group or section. Yes, the Party does give priority to those sections, which have been ignored and scorned all along by the Manuwadi governments in all spheres of life. In addition, the BSP has always contributed positively to all issues pertaining to the welfare of the Country. The BSP has always taken an unequivocal stand on issues of the Country’s welfare and never compromised on the issues related to the interest of the country whenever the need arose.

    Aims and Objectives
    The chief aim and objective of the party shall be to work as a revolutionary social and economic movement of change with a view to realise, in practical terms, the supreme principles of universal justice, liberty, equality and fraternity enunciated in the Constitution of India, to be followed by State in governance, and in particular summed up in the following extract from the Preamble of the Constitution.
    We, THE PEOPLE OF INDIA, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a SOVEREIGN SECULAR DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC and to secure to all its citizens:
    Justice, social, economic and political;
    Liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship;
    Equality of status and opportunity; and promote among them all
    Fraternity assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the Nation;”
    The Party shall regard its ideology as a movement for ending exploitation of the weaker sections and suppression of the deprived through social and economic change in keeping with the above stated chief aim, and its political activity and participation in governance as an instrument of furthering such a movement and bringing in such a change.
    This being the chief aim of the Party, the strategy of the Party in public affairs will be governed by the following general principles:¬
    1. That all citizens of India being equal before law are entitled to be treated as equal in true sense and in all matters and all walks of life, and where equality does not exist it has to be fostered and where equality is denied it has to be upheld and fought for.
    2. That the full, free, uninhibited and unimpeded development of each individual is a basic human right and State is an instrument for promoting and realising such development;
    3. That the rights of all citizens of India as enshrined in the Constitution of India and subject to such restrictions as are set out in the Constitution, have to be upheld at all costs and under all circumstances;
    4. That the provisions of the Constitution requiring the State at Center and in States to promote with special care and protect the socio-economic interests of the weaker sections of the society denied to them for centuries, have to upheld and given practical shape in public affairs as a matter of prime most priority.
    5. That economic disparities and the wide gaps between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’ must not be allowed to override the political principle of “one man, one vote, one vote, one value” adopted by our republic.
    6. That unless political empowerment is secured for the economically deprived masses they will not be able to free themselves from the shackles of economic and social dependence and exploitation.
    In particular and without prejudice to the generality of the aims stated above the Party will work specially towards the following objectives:¬
    1. The Scheduled Castes, the Scheduled Tribes, the other Backward Castes, and the minorities, are the most oppressed and exploited people in India. Keeping in mind their large numbers, such a set of people in India is known as the Bahujan Samaj. The Party shall organise these masses.
    2. The party shall work for these down trodden masses to¬-
    a. to remove their backwardness;
    b. to fight against their oppression and exploitation;
    c. to improve their status in society and public life;
    d. to improve their living conditions in day to day life;
    2. The social structure of India is based on inequalities created by caste system and the movement of the Party shall be geared towards changing the social system and rebuild it on the basis of equality and human values. All those who join the party with the commitment to co-operate in this movement of social change shall be ingratiated into the fold of the Party.
    Towards the furtherance of the above noted aims and objectives the organisational units of Party as designated in this constitution, shall be empowered to:-
    1. purchase, take on lease or otherwise acquire, and maintain, moveable or immovable property for the Party and invest and deal with monies of Party in such a manner as may from time to time be determined;
    2. raise money with or without security for carrying out any of the aims and objectives of the Party;
    3. to do all other lawful things and acts as are incidental or conducive to the attainment of any of the aforesaid aims and objectives,
    Provided that none of these activities will be undertaken without the express approval of the National President.
    Vidya Subrahmaniam, Press Release
    That today sections of upper castes seem to prefer the BSP to the BJP speaks to the long distance travelled by Mayawati’s party.
    FOR THE past month, medical students in the Capital have been protesting the “quota issue” with brooms and mops in their hands – in a crude symbolism against the Scheduled Castes. Were they to travel to Uttar Pradesh, they would discover how much behind the times they are. In her book, ” Mere sangharshmai jeevan evam bahujan movement ka safarnama ” (My struggle-filled life and the journey of bahujan movement), Mayawati explains how she reached out to Brahmins (and later other upper castes) and how the latter, in trickles to begin with but gradually in greater numbers, began to respond. The first step was to tap the more socially committed among Brahmins and through them appeal to the larger community. But lest this should be understood as a dilution of the Bahujan Samaj Party’s opposition to “manuwad”, there was a caveat. The BSP needed Brahmins – and other forward castes – to come over but on its terms. Those who responded, Ms. Mayawati let it be known, would be amply rewarded, by way of the party ticket, Rajya Sabha nominations, and ministerial berths.
    The BSP chief’s earliest breakthrough was the induction of Satish Chandra Misra, Advocate General in the BSP Government, who agreed to canvass support among like-minded Brahmins. Mr. Misra’s positive feedback led to the appointment of coordinators tasked with organising district-level Brahmin mahasammelans (Brahmin congregations). The job was not easy. Forward castes in the north were not only more sizeable compared to the south, caste barriers were more entrenched in the absence of an enlightened social movement. The BSP itself was deeply resented for its strident anti-manuwadi campaign.
    But mission “Brahmin jodo” (integrate Brahmins) was the worth the time and effort, and on June 9, 2005, Ms. Mayawati addressed the BSP’s first State-level Brahmin mahasammelan. “It is not by chance that you have turned up here in such large numbers here,” the BSP chief told the gathering. Her repeated assurance: the BSP was against “manuwad”, or the Brahminical disdain for lower castes, but it was not against Brahmins. Therefore, any fear of a reverse discrimination in the BSP was unfounded. The Brahmin mahasammelan spawned other mahasammelans – of Rajputs, Vaishyas, and Yadavas, representing forward and backward castes. Each was an attempt to add another community to the BSP’s Dalit core vote.
    The enormity of the BSP’s forward caste project is best understood in terms of the BSP-BJP relationship. Each time the BSP aligned with the BJP, the former gained and the latter lost. Between 1991 and 2004, the BJP’s Lok Sabha seats from Uttar Pradesh declined from 51 of 84 seats to 10 of 80 seats. Between 1991 and 2002, its Assembly seats declined from 221 of 425 seats to 88 of 403 seats. In the same period, the BSP’s Lok Sabha tally went up from just one to 19 and its Assembly seats from 12 to 98. There seemed but one explanation for this dramatic reversal: the BJP’s core voters were disillusioned by its repeated pacts with the forward caste-baiting BSP. That the same segments, or even a section of them, could prefer the BSP to the BJP speaks to the amazing journey of a party that targeted, and was in turn targeted by, forward castes. As Sudhir Goyal, national spokesperson of the BSP puts it: “The transformation is a measure of our confidence. It is from a position of strength that we are talking to upper castes.”
    So, how do the BSP’s Dalit workers react to the co-option of the “manuwadi” castes? With stoic acceptance: “Our fight is with the system. This is the only way the BSP can capture power on its own.” Undoubtedly, this is the voice of a deeply committed cadre. On the outside, the BSP is all about Ms. Mayawati, with the media obsessively focussing on her clothes, jewellery, and “imperious” manner. On the ground, the BSP could be a cult instead of a party, with the cadre doggedly and silently propagating the party’s ideology in the remotest villages. The commonest refrain among workers is ” hum marne mitne ke liye taiyar hain ” (we are ready to die for the party). For Salim Ansari and Raj Vijay, former and current presidents of the party’s Mau unit, the BSP is a mission where the poorest workers give up bidis and paan to raise funds. The election drill is rigorous and starts early, with party candidates chosen almost two years in advance and put on test. Each constituency is divided into 25 sectors with ten polling booths to a sector. Each booth, accounting roughly for 1000 voters, is under the care of a nine-member committee, headed by a president and with at least one woman member deputed to motivate and mobilise women voters.
    Says Mr. Ansari, ” Behenji ‘s one message is: do not sleep. And we do not. The booth committees have a single goal – to ensure the maximum turnout of our voters. Each member has a specific duty, and we have already had rehearsals for what to do on voting day [eight months away].” So has the BSP really put together an unbeatable Dalit-forward caste-most backward caste combination? The many caste mahasammelans and the systematic targeting of the smaller caste groups – Chauhan, Rajbar, Malla, Maurya to name a few – would suggest so. Say BSP workers Ashok Kumkar and M.S. Chauhan: “As important as the Brahmin mahasammelans are the many more unpublicised efforts directed at the smaller castes.”
    Yet the experiment is not without its pitfalls. For instance, the pro-Mayawati mood, so visible among Allahabad forward castes, seemed driven less by a genuine change of heart towards the BSP than by the immediate imperative of removing Mulayam Singh. The language bordered on communal, with Mr. Mulayam Singh accused of “pandering to Muslims” and “protecting Muslims bullies.” This leads to the question: Is forward caste support for the BSP merely opportunistic, with the BSP temporarily substituting for the BJP?
    As important is a second question: Has the BSP been able to break traditional barriers in the villages? This writer travelled into the villages of Mau with a band of BSP workers. The Dalit villagers were easily identified by their enthusiasm and shouts of “Jai Bhim” (for Bhim Rao Ambedkar). The fervours made it impossible to tell between voters and workers. Both spoke of “working to the last breath ” for the BSP and behenji . Bright-eyed Ranjana from Nausopur village typified this mix. “There is a BSP wave. The Brahmins are voting the haathi (elephant),” she gushed, even as she insisted on accompanying us to forward caste homes to “witness the revolution.”
    Ashok Kumar, the village pradhan, was emphatic that Brahmins would vote the BSP: ” I have complete respect for Maywati as an administrator. She was tough on criminals and that is what we need now.” Banke Bihari, another Brahmin, voted the BJP in 2002 and wants to give the BSP a try: “I would like to believe that she has changed.” But were forward castes not jailed and harassed by previous BSP regimes? “Those who ought to be jailed, ought to be jailed.” Ram Ashish Tiwari was bitter about the BJP’s forgotten Ram mandir and the “Jinnah betrayal.” “I do not know if I will vote the BSP. But I am not voting the BJP.”
    Yet attitudinal mindsets are not so easily demolished. At Umapur, our group ran into the openly hostile Rajnath Tiwari and his son. Said Mr. Tiwari: “The Ram mandir will be built and we will vote the BJP as long as we live.” But were Brahmins not turning to the BSP? The son’s hands flew to his ears, his disgust apparent, his words a torrent of abuse: “Ram, Ram, what are you saying? The BSP and us?” The effect was instantaneous. “Don’t you dare,” began Ranjana only to stop abruptly, her eyes misty, her fists clenched tightly. It was evident that she was holding herself back. Did she not want to retaliate? “I do but we have a larger goal. We have to win.”
    That the BSP has gained phenomenally on the ground is clear. But U.P. is a complex State where every day brings a new challenge. In the villages, each major caste has its own political party and the numbers can only increase as election day draws near. The Samajwadi Party’s Muslim base is under threat from a new, more strident Muslim party. This could benefit the BSP or it could breathe life into the BJP. If the Congress revival is better than currently anticipated, it could affect forward caste movement towards the BSP. On the other hand, should the anti-quota forward caste anger spread to U.P. – currently reservation is a non-issue here – the Congress will be affected the most.
    ‘Top TN leaders have pending criminal cases’
    Express News Service
    First Published : 11 Feb 2011 02:45:22 AM IST
    Last Updated : 11 Feb 2011 12:26:21 PM IST

    CHENNAI: Over 26 sitting MLAs, including Chief Minister M Karunanidhi, Deputy Chief Minister M K Stalin and Leader of Opposition J Jayalalithaa, have serious criminal cases pending against them, as per their affidavits, according to a report released by the Association of Democratic Reforms and National Election Watch here on Thursday.

    Addressing a press conference, Anil Bairwal, the national coordinator of the organisation, said as per affidavits filed during the 2006 Assembly elections, the CM had nine cases pending against him of which two related to deliberate and malicious acts intending to outrage religious feelings, while Jayalalithaa had three pending cases of which two were registered under the Prevention of Corruption Act.
    Deputy Chief Minister M K Stalin had eight cases pending against him, including charges relating to sedition and attempt to murder. The report was released in the wake of Assembly elections scheduled to be held later this year.
    Of the 76 MLAs in the Assembly who had cases pending against them, 39 were from the DMK, 15 from the PMK and seven belonged to the AIADMK, the report stated.
    Coordinator of Tamil Nadu Election Watch Sudarshan Padmanabhan said of the affidavits of 30 ministers filed in 2006, 16 had pending criminal cases.
    Interestingly, the Chief Minister and the Opposition leader topped the list of crorepati MLAs. While the Chief M inister had a fortune of Rs 26 crore, Jayalalithaa had declared assets worth Rs 24 crore. Surprisingly, seven MLAs have not declared their PAN card details.
    Interestingly, Karunanidhi had on December 1 last year claimed that he had a bank balance of Rs 35.9 lakh and fixed deposits of Rs 5.65 crore. He made the statement in response to Jayalalithaa’s comments on his wealth.
    The DMK also outscored AIADMK in the crore-club with 33 per cent of its MLAs featuring in it, while AIADMK had only 14 per cent of its MLAs in that league. The average assets of the DMK, Congress and Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi members was Rs 1 c rore while PMK MLAs had an average of Rs 64 lakh and AIADMK members just Rs 54 lakh.

    Vijayakanth declares 47 Crore in assets

    Actor-turned-politician and DMDK founder Vijayakanth has assets worth around Rs 47 crore both immovable and movable, according to the election affidavit filed along with his nomination. Vijayakanth has shown an annual income of Rs 53.77 lakh and that he has a defamation case pending against him.
    The affidavit contains the assets details of, Vijayakanth andPremalatha Vijayakanth, as he has movable assets account for Rs 9.04 crore and that of his wife Premalatha Rs 1.2 crore.He has immovable assets of Rs 10.83 crore, including agricultural land, while his wife has Rs 5.28 crore worth immovable assets.
    He has Rs six lakh on hand. They owe a combined sum of around Rs nine crore as dues to government departments, including Income-Tax department, he said, adding appeals were pending in these matters.
    Vijayakanth’s loans and liabilities amount to Rs 2.53 crore.

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