The Uttar Pradesh elections have witnessed a sweep by the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) led by Mayawati. It is the first time since 1989 that the state sees a single-party majority. More significantly, the national parties in the fray suffered a whitewash at the hands of a regional unit that came into being in 1984. There are important lessons here. The UP electorate has voted for good governance. While the Congress failed to win minority votes by pandering to Muslim sentiment or the lower castes by championing reservation, the BJP’s cynical tactic of polarizing the electorate to its advantage seems to have run its course for now.
In the last 23 years, the BSP has transformed itself from being a champion of the lower castes into a more politically representative entity. In the UP elections, it has moved closer to the Centre. The party has to now deliver on its promise of good governance—its track record leaves this suspect, though.