Politics in Uttar Pradesh has never been as fragile as it is now. A statement, an action has acquired the power to change political permutations, mar social equations and even, perhaps, build new ones in the months to come. When expelled BJP leader Dayashankar Singh made a derogatory comment against BSP supremo Mayawati, little did he know that it would wipe off all the efforts that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah had made over the months to win over Dalits in UP — efforts that included paying tributes to Ambedkar at every function and sharing a meal with Dalits.

Even as the BJP was lamenting the loss of Dalits, the BSP began rejoicing at the opportunity it had got to retrieve lost ground by camouflaging the remark as an insult to the community. Almost overnight, the BSP managed huge crowds to stage a protest and political pundits happily heralded the “return of BSP”. Then it took exactly one hour for the BSP’s return to be stopped in the tracks. Slogans raised against Dayashankar’s wife, sister and minor daughter may have been an outburst of Dalit rage, but it also put the upper castes on the offensive. Within a few hours, the BSP had risen and fallen. The impact of upper caste angst was so palpable that Mayawati air dashed to Lucknow and cancelled the party’s next protest. Mayawati, for the first time in her political career, called upon “bhatija” Akhilesh Yadav to avenge her humiliation and ensure the arrest of the expelled BJP leader. Akhilesh Yadav promptly accepted her request and Dayashankar was arrested.

This softening of stand towards each other put political watchers on the alert and talks of a secret nexus between the SP and BSP — sworn enemies since 1995 — started doing the rounds.

Meanwhile, the Samajwadi Party government was apparently smug over the fact that the losers were mainly the BSP, which had lost upper caste sympathies, and the BJP which had lost its Dalit support. But sweeping gusts of wind do not spare onlookers either.  Mohd Azam Khan, in a well calculated move (he has been smarting ever since his bête noire Amar Singh returned to the SP and has been looking for an opportunity to display his nuisance value), issued a statement saying that the Bulandshahar highway rape case was a political conspiracy.

The statement drew wide condemnation and left the BSP smarting in one corner, while the focus turned firmly on the SP and BJP battle. A day later, BJP spokesman I.P. Singh retaliated with another horror — “Azam Khan will know what rape means if his wife and daughter are subjected to such treatment”. Before the war could reach a crescendo, Dayashankar’s wife Swati Singh returned centrestage to tell the world that the SP government had slapped Posco Act on three BSP leaders, but had spared Naseemuddin Siddiqui, bringing attention back to the growing bonhomie between the SP and BSP.

Political observers feel that after 21 years of intense hostility, any such bonhomie between the SP and BSP could tear apart the social fabric, damage both the parties and lead to renewed caste tensions since OBCs and Dalits are no longer compatible, though their leaders may be. In this cauldron of confusion, statements are being whirled around and political leaders are looking on with stupefied silence.


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