New Delhi, Sept. 9: The communal tension in Uttar Pradesh has created panic in the Congress, usually the worst sufferer in a polarised atmosphere.
The clashes in the Jat-dominated Muzaffarnagar pose greater complexity as elections will be held soon in party-ruled Rajasthan, where the group has considerable presence.
The dilemma was manifested in the guarded, almost theoretical, response of spokesperson Bhakta Charan Das today.
“Vested interests have deliberately created this situation,” he said, referring to the clashes. Asked to specify, he merely said: “We all know which are the forces that benefit from communal polarisation.”
His response and the alacrity with which the Centre took steps today on the violence reflect the Congress’s dilemma and unease.
If the party scrutinises the incidents, it risks being seen as taking sides. While the minority community is a vital ingredient of the party’s electoral plan for next year’s general election, Rajasthan remains an immediate concern.
The state polls could be held as early as November and the Jats, who could influence outcomes in over 40 per cent of the constituencies, are anyway learnt to be disenchanted with the Ashok Gehlot-led party government.
The BJP doesn’t face any such predicament and would back the Jats. Most Congress leaders suspect the BJP is stoking the embers in Uttar Pradesh.
The BJP’s prospects appear dim unless an axis of the Jats and the minority community is broken. The alliance, creating a vote percentage of over 40, surpasses any other electoral combine.
The antagonism between the Jats — the peasant landlords — and minority community farm labourers is not new but the fear is that it has been re-ignited to demolish the prospects of the alliance between the Congress and Ajit Singh, a Jat.
While the BJP is seen as the obvious gainer in this battle, the other major beneficiary could be the BSP.
Mayawati’s party makes an equally formidable combination of Scheduled Castes and the minority community — with a potential to bag over 40 per cent of the votes — considered good enough to sweep elections.
The Samajwadi Party, looking to consolidate minority votes as they are eyed by the Congress and the BSP in next year’s election with the spotlight on Narendra Modi, may also face the heat.
That is because of fears that large-scale unrest could lead to a churn in the minority community despite the general assumption that a polarised atmosphere benefits the Samajwadis too by rallying the members behind the party.
But the Samajwadis don’t have to face complexities like the Congress, whose leaders argue that they draw sustenance from all sections of society and have concerns of other states on their minds.
The Congress leaders concede they are the worst placed in a volatile situation and, therefore, want normality to be restored soon in Uttar Pradesh.
Das, the Congress spokesperson, explained today how the Centre was working with the Akhilesh Yadav government to control the situation.
The Congress won 22 of the state’s 80 Lok Sabha seats in 2009, a feat leaders said would be difficult to repeat in a polarised scenario.