Instability can become a way of life. For the unfortunate state of Uttar Pradesh, politics has come to be identified with the unstable. Spells of president’s rule punctuated by fragile and fractious coalition rule had culminated with the partnership of Ms Mayavati’s Bahujan Samaj Party and the Bharatiya Janata Party in Lucknow. This is a partnership furiously criticized by Mr Mulayam Singh Yadav as unfair, since he had not been asked to form the government in spite of his Samajwadi Party having won the maximum number of seats as a single party in the assembly elections. The keen political rivalry between the BSP and the Samajwadi Party has always been a destabilizing factor in recent UP politics, and hints of a rapprochement between Mr Yadav and the Congress posed a potential danger to Ms Mayavati’s snug dominance. Her high-handed style of conducting affairs has alienated a number of her coalition partners, especially Mr Ajit Singh’s Rashtriya Lok Dal, which quit the coalition. Members of the BJP and even some among the BSP were restless. There was a point when it seemed that Ms Mayavati’s majority was coming to a crisis. At the moment, Ms Mayavati has weathered the storm, as seems indicated by her confident assertion that her political enemies’ declared wish to go to the “people” is a confession that they have lost the numbers game. She is confident enough to state that members of various rival parties are approaching her, and appears to be relishing the prospect of a second — and this time fatal — split in the Congress.
All is fair in politics, therefore there is hardly any uniqueness in this apparently drab chronicle of events. What is remarkable — or remarkably obvious — however, is the infinite capacity of UP members of the legislative assembly to be bought, over and over again. Ms Mayavati’s supreme confidence springs from this feature alone, and not from a conviction in the politics she professes. The state of UP has always been held up as a symptom and symbol of politics in India as a whole. To go by that is to make an alarming commentary on the priorities of politicians all over the country.