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What Anna factor? Parties fail to break caste barriers

Friday January 06, 2012 09:55:40 PM, Brij Khandelwal, IANS

Agra: Anna Hazare's efforts to inject a degree of sanity in political behaviour appears to have made no impact on political strategies and selection of candidates for the forthcoming Uttar Pradesh elections.

A cursory look at the lists of candidates fielded by various political groups makes it clear that caste consideration, ability to win, clout and money-muscle power remain the guiding principles.

"One expected a significant departure from established practices but the hopes have been belied," social activist Shravan Kumar Singh told IANS.

Senior citizen Surendra Sharma blamed the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) in particular as it constantly talks of its desire to change the face of the country.

"The BJP is caught in a catch-22 situation. Its leaders do not know what to do and how to strategise to lure the over 10 million new voters who have dreams.

"By inducting discredited politicians from other parties, it has sent out wrong messages which will prove to be the party's undoing," he warned.

Uttar Pradesh, India's most populous state, will hold a seven-phase election in February to pick a new state assembly.

A tough four-way contest is on the cards involving the ruling Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), the BJP, the Samajwadi Party and the Congress.

The Rahul Gandhi-led election machine has tried to field some new candidates who have fresh image but caste considerations have not been given the go by.

Explained Sudhir Gupta, a political activist: "Sumit Bibhav, the young Congress candidate from Agra North, is a fresh, clean and professional face. But his chief merit is the Vaishya community to which he belongs.

"He is pitted against BSP and BJP's bania candidates. While the Samajwadi Party has decided to experiment with a Brahmin candidate, a novice in politics, knowing perhaps the party has no chance of winning," said Gupta.

All major political parties have fielded candidates according to caste dynamics of individual constituencies in the sprawling Agra region, about 200 km south of Delhi.

"No wonder the tainted faces are back in the reckoning. So what have you at the end of the day?" asked analyst Vinay Paliwal.

Many in Agra say that it is amazing how the Anna movement for a corruption-free India and the related issues it threw up have been largely ignored.

"Who are the Anna supporters and where are they? What difference will they make in the assembly elections? Will they or will they not mobilise support for one or the other candidates, or will they remain neutral?" the leader of a local group asked.

(Brij Khandelwal can be contacted at








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