Hard Facts

‘Behind the Saffron Surge’

Sandeep Banerjee

This has reference to Editorial "The Saffron Surge?"Frontier, Vol. 49, No. 37, March 19-25, 2017). Here are some supplementary points that merit attention.

14.05 crores of voters, 22.3 crores population... well, one may assume number of available workforce of able bodied population (excluding those above 60 or 65 years) above the age of 18 years or more, to be 12-13 crores. Those are all 2017 figures for Uttar Pradesh. And now the number of unemployed is more than 1 crore! Every 1 out of every 8 would like to work and earn but there is no job opening. It was reported in more than one national daily in perhaps January 2017. While doing caste, religious and other arithmetic, many poll wizards did not give the unemployment issue due importance. A connected issue, somehow connected 'from above' by the media, is—development is the mantra of the age and it will eradicate unemployment, poverty etc. So, unemployment created a 'demand' of development. Added up, these two, i.e. unemployment and development took up the 'main attention' of more than a third of the population; 36% voted one of these two (in CSDS survey) as no : 1 problem. And who doesn't know that Gujarat, Maharashtra, Andhra stand for good employment prospect to migrant population of India, including those from Uttar Pradesh; and hence, for the migrant and would-be migrant populace, BJP with its development slogan and actualities of some state, albeit some 'scars and bloodstains', may mean 'business'... this idea might as well worked for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in UP.

Now there is another factor—Poverty. How poor is UP with respect to its neighbours of other states? In 2015 in an article it was found after the revision of wage rates in April, the wage for unskilled work like loading and unloading trays is Rs 348 per day in Delhi, while in Uttar Pradesh, it is only Rs 259. In 2006, one-fifth of the total poor people of India were in UP—as Times of India reported studying a World Bank report. What changed thereafter? A World Bank report (Uttar Pradesh—Poverty, growth and inequality) analysis (2012 data) said Consumption Inequality has increased in Urban UP. Uttar Pradesh is among the slowest growing states in the country with one of the slowest poverty reduction rate. According to a UNDP report, among Indian states UP has 6th lowest Human Development Index. In the Census operation it was seen that in Uttar Pradesh, 11% of households did not have any of the census assets—bicycles, mobile phones or phones, TV, etc. No wonder that in the above mentioned CSDS opinion survey Poverty was no : 1 issue to 7% of the voters. So development-poverty-unemployment together stood at no : 1 issue to 43% of the electorate, whereas 'demonetization' was given no : 1 position by only 8% of the electorate. It also shows what the upper class intelligentsia thinks about people’s issues and how the people saw issues.

Gilles Verniers did the caste-analysis of the 2017 UP vote in the pages of Indian Express and his analysis must be noted carefully before his conclusion is being refuted : BJP did better case calculus and won bonus, of course here 'better' means uglier cold-and-cunning upper caste calculations which gave more dividend than Mayawati's calculations. Indeed, Mayawati's or BSP's 'favouring' upper castes (in terms of no of ticket per % of population) may send queer signal to Dalits. (By the way, Mayawati, though might be 'representing' Dalits, is not a 'threat' to the capitalists of India or abroad.)

Here is a Table for seeing how Caste and Class matches (or not) in UP—one shall simply look at the top quintile (20%) of the population and the bottom quintile. (Now one may recollect an unsaid 'truth' about rural India (at least) that the poorer, less educated, backbencher populace gives less 'vocal' would-be public representatives. So for a Dalit parliamentary representative is seldom a poorer, labourer, Dalit.]

BJP's calculation of giving more tickets to 'non-aligned-to-any-party' type castes and Thakurs and Brahmins paid dividend. Whereas fighting between one Muslim SP candidate and one Muslim BSP candidate helped a BJP candidate who was not Muslim. (BJP filed no Muslim candidates this time.)

There might be many other interesting things that the UP election showed and it is necessary to analyse from various sides.

Economic & Caste reality of UP population
Caste                      Population share in          Population share in

                               Top 20% (affluent)         bottom 20% (poorest)
Brahmins                                         37.3                                            6.8
Thakurs                                           46.7                                            6.5
Other Hindu UCs                           36.9                                            2.2
Hindu UCs                                      39.8                                            5.5
Muslim UCs                                    17.0                                           21.9
Yadavs                                            31.3                                            7.7
Kurmis                                             19.6                                            8.9
Jats                                                 57.0                                            5.1
Lodhs                                               11.7                                           25.0
Other Hindu OBCs                         18.0                                            16.9
Hindu OBCs                                   24.0                                           14.0
Ansaris                                            20.8                                           21.2
Other Muslim OBCs                        4.8                                            31.0
Muslim OBCs                                  10.7                                           27.3
Jatav-Chamars                                11.9                                           24.9
Pasis                                               22.9                                           39.3
Other Hindu Dalits                          11.2                                           26.9
Hindu Dalits                                    12.8                                           26.7
Dallt Muslims                                   9.8                                            35.1
All Hindus                                       25.8                                           15.2
All Muslims                                     12.8                                           25.5
[source : Prashant K Trivedi et al]

Vol. 49, No.41, April 16 - 22, 2017