ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Uttar Pradesh: Competitive Communalism Once Again

Uttar Pradesh, a key state in the race for power in New Delhi, is witnessing a resurgence of communal politics after a brief lull in the early 2000s. While the Samajwadi Party's attempts to win back Muslim support seem to have hit a roadblock after the Muzaffarnagar riots, the Bharatiya Janata Party hopes to revive its earlier appeal by promoting Narendra Modi and the Hindutva agenda. Though the earlier weakening of identity politics was expected to bring in a development-oriented politics, the state remains underdeveloped and caught between political parties that still play the same old electoral cards of division and promotion of strife.

The election campaign for the Lok Sabha elections is a highly contested one with many different, often contradictory, issues being stridently debated by political parties, their candidates, and the public. On the one hand, with liberalisation, the rise of a large middle class, and urbanisation, issues such as governance, corruption, and the need for welfare or neo-liberal reforms have been raised by civil society movements, which political parties and the electorate have to contend with. On the other, the politics of identity, which was widely felt to have abated in recent years in the key state of Uttar Pradesh (UP), has reared its head once again. In the 1990s, UP experienced changes that transformed national politics – the rise of the Hindutva ideology, Mandal and the dalit upsurge. With the relative weakening of identity politics by the early 2000s, it was widely believed that political stability with a competition between the Samajwadi Party (SP) and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) on a development-oriented agenda had come to UP.

Revival of Communal Mobilisation

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