Lucknow, October 04: With one-and half-year to go for 2022 crucial assembly elections rise in crime and law and order is fast emerging as a major election plank for the opposition parties in UP. If track records of at least three successive assembly elections from 2007 to 2017 are any indication perception of rising crime graph, apart from caste combination, had played crucial role in dislodging the ruling party.
If Hathras gangrape and brutal murder of 19-year-old girl has come handy for Congress, Samajwadi party and BSP to target Yogi government, the gangrape and murder of two cousin sisters of Dalit community in Katra Sadatganj on 2014 had put the Akhilesh Yadav government in the dock. Similarly, Mayawati had come to power in 2007 on the slogan of ending “Goonda Raj” of Mulayam Singh Yadav government (2003-2007) But Mayawati faced same predicament when she contested 2012 election and Samajwadi Party trounced on the same charges of rise in crime graph. During Mayawati regime (2007-12) there was at least 15% increase in all cases in UP. Before the 2012 assembly elections as many as 4951 murders, 2042 rapes, 3148 robberies cases were reported in one year from January 1, 2011 to December 31, 2011. Similarly, 1563 rape cases were reported in 2010.
So with Hathras crime hogging limelight, though for certain inexplicable reasons not as aggressively as during Mayawati or Akhilesh Yadav regimes, the political message is loud and clear that Opposition parties are once again setting agenda of law and order against BJP to counter the saffron brigade on its Ram temple and Hindutav issue which will be major electoral slogan 2022.
According to available data, in 2012, when Akhilesh Yadav became the chief minister of UP, total 33,824 crime were reported including 2,000 rapes and 4,966 murders. During BSP chief Mayawati’s regime, 32,987 crimes took place in UP. In 2007, 27,000 crimes and 5,000 murders were reported. In 2004, when Mulayam Singh Yadav was UP CM, 6,126 murders happened.
If we look back on three previous dispensations Mulayam Singh Yadav (2003-07), Mayawati (2007-12) and Akhilesh Yadav (2012-17) first three and half years during these regimes witnessed lots of talk of developmental activities like so-called establishment of State Development Council then headed by Amar Singh in 2003 to Mayawati’s several lakh crore investments of “paper” and later similar talk about development during previous Akhilesh Yadav regime except Lucknow Metro, Lucknow-Agra Expressway and few other iconic buildings. But by the time assembly elections came closer while the claim of development was pushed under the rug, the agenda was only “massive rise crime” and caste combination. Now as UP prepares for 2022 electoral battle the political scenario is heading in same direction.
Will the BJP be able to counter the opposition on this issue through its “aggressive Hindutav” agenda is too early to predict as reports coming from various areas indicated re-alignment of castes and frustration among people because of rampant corruption and mismanagement at local level. Hathras itself has thrown Thakur-versus Dalits struggle with Jats led by Jayant Chaudhury, who was beaten up by UP police on October 4 while on way to Hathras victim family joining the battle in western UP. Though Mayawati has also taken up the cause of the family, her party appears to be going slow to assess the general mood of Valmiki community which has been at loggerheads with the BSP in the past. Interestingly Congress and SP have also been trying to fish in the troubled waters. No doubt the opposition is paying the BJP in same coin. After Badaun rape and murder in 2014 the BJP had launched aggressive drive against Akhilesh government.
(The writer is former Chief of Bureau of Hindustan Times, Lucknow)