Dr. Prem Singh, a prolific and multidisciplinary writer and former President of the Socialist Party (India), was in Lucknow on personal work in the last week of November 2021. Incidentally, I called him up and asked him some questions about the upcoming Uttar Pradesh elections. The details of that long telephonic conversation with him are given below. (This is an English version of the original Hindi interview.)
Question: The campaigning for the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections has started in full swing. Whose do you think is likely to win?
Answer: On one side there is ruling BJP and on the other side there are three major opposition parties – BSP, SP and Congress. Obviously, the vote of the opposition will be divided. The SP has formed an alliance of some smaller parties. So, it seems to have an edge. But this edge is in the realm of the opposition. For an edge over the BJP, the support of either the BSP or the Congress will be necessary in one form or the other.
Question: But it doesn’t seem possible. In the last assembly and Lok Sabha elections, SP’s alliance with BSP and Congress has broken.
Answer: As it is being said, if the UP elections will decide the outcome of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, then the opposition in UP will have to act very responsibly and seriously. The opposition should be accountable to the citizens who have faith in the Constitution and its institutions. There should be at least enough understanding among the opposition that in case the BJP does not get a majority, it cannot snatch the MLAs of the opposition by the way of horse-trading, and a coalition government of the opposition should be formed.
Question: What do you want?
Answer: According to the conversation I have had with some concerned citizens here in Lucknow, the Congress and the communist parties should look into the ground reality. At present, the SP-RLD alliance seems to be in the strongest position with some smaller parties. There are seven members in the Congress Legislative Assembly. Apart from these, it should contest elections only on the seats where it stood second in the 2017 assembly elections. It can do this by staying with the SP-RLD alliance, even outside it. Otherwise, it will invite the defeat of the opposition like in Bihar. In Bihar, it brought defeat by staying inside the Grand Alliance, here it can be the reason for the defeat of the opposition staying outside. Communist parties should go to the polls with SP-RLD alliance on minimum seats. They should stay together with the alliance even if they don’t contest elections. In my opinion, it would be better if there is a grand alliance of opposition parties in Uttar Pradesh against the BJP-led NDA.
Question: Will the Dalit community of Uttar Pradesh continue to vote as before or will there be any change in their voting pattern?
Answer: Election experts/psephologists can talk about this. After this you will also ask questions about Muslim voters. I want, though it is a hoax, people of all castes and religions should vote as Indian citizens. That is, vote with the understanding that the anti-constitutional politics of corporate-communal nexus has to be defeated.
Question: The situation has changed in western Uttar Pradesh after the farmers’ movement. Here an outrage has emerged against the Centre and the BJP, which is visible. How much impact will this have on the election and how much will the Jayant-Akhilesh duo be able to cash in?
Answer: The BJP has been doing a hard work in western Uttar Pradesh since the time of the farmers’ movement. Now there it seems that RLD has come into the fight. The reason for this change is the death of Chaudhary Ajit Singh and the clear and strong role of Rakesh Tikait in the later phase of the farmers’ movement. I think the BJP will try to compensate loss of western Uttar Pradesh in eastern Uttar Pradesh.
Question: The picture of Akhilesh Yadav with Aam Aadmi Party MP Sanjay Singh is covered in the media. It is believed that the alliance between SP and AAP has been agreed, how do you see it?
Answer: AAP should have an alliance with the BJP and not the SP. The Aam Aadmi Party is a natural ally of the RSS/BJP in the campaign that is being created to create a mixture of Corporation India and Hindu-Rashtra. Rather, it is deepening the communalization of politics to make its future.
Question: The distance between the Aam Aadmi Party and the Samajwadi Party at the level of ideology, can it harm Akhilesh Yadav in the election?
Answer: If ideology is meant for the ideology of the Constitution of India, then leave Akhilesh Yadav, most of the leaders of the mainstream politics do not have faith in it. In the politics of India, the Constitution has become a totem. If this was not the case then it would not have been possible for leaders to boast and claim credit for development citing construction of the Central Vista or the new international airports as illustration of their achievement. They, while doing this, conveniently side line the unmeasurable gap of economic disparity, the uncountable number of unemployed, the innumerable plight of the working people and so on. Well, leave ideology, If Akhilesh Yadav and Jayant Chaudhary have even the slightest knowledge of practical politics, then they will not let Aam Aadmi Party to tag along with them.
Question: What should be the role of socialist and secular minded organizations and civil society activists in the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections?
Answer: If they do not play any role in any election, not only in Uttar Pradesh, then the opposition will be helped.
Question: What will be the role of Socialist Party (India) in UP elections?
Answer: As you know, I am not active in the party.
Question: In the end, what is your message for voters in Uttar Pradesh elections?
Answer: I do not consider myself to send a message. However, I would like to tell the leaders of both the power and the opposition that instead of making claims of opening new airports, smart cities, global cities, hospitals, medical colleges, universities, expressways, whatever has been built should be made functional in a smooth and effective manner. If this much is done then the sufferings of the common people will definitely be less.
Rajesh Kumar is a young journalist affiliated with Zee TV