The results of the recently concluded 2022 UP Assembly elections were declared on the 10th of March, and BJP, led by incumbent CM Yogi Adityanath won a 2/3rd majority. BJP defeated its main rival, the Samajwadi Party for the second time in a row as Yogi Adityanath broke several records.
Prior to Yogi Adiyanath becoming Chief Minister, Akhilesh Yadav of the Samajwadi Party was at the helm of affairs from 2012 to 2017. The state was gripped with widespread political violence throughout his tenure as bahubalis ruled the roost. In fact, when Akhilesh Yadav’s win was confirmed in 2012, the state experienced deadly violence for at least 36 hours, primarily at the hands of Samajwadi goons.
According to a 2012 India Today report, in those 36 hours, at least three people were killed and dozens of Dalit homes were set on fire in incidents of violence across the state. Most of these incidents involved Samajwadi Party members and the targets were the supporters of previous CM Mayawati.
The spate of violence started on the day the Samajwadi Party was declared the winner of the elections, as some party workers assaulted and damaged the equipment of journalists in Jhansi.
Some members of the Yadav and Bind communities set fire to Nats’ homes in Makdumpur village in Sant Ravidas Nagar district. The hut of Khushboo, a woman, where Congress General Secretary Rahul Gandhi had stopped for a while on November 2, 2011, was also set ablaze.
“I was attacked and my house was set on flames last night because I didn’t vote for the SP,” Khushboo had alleged back then.
In Bhambia village in Sitapur district, a dozen Dalit houses were also set on fire. Locals claimed that it was carried out by people celebrating Samajwadi Party’s victory.
Following a clash between BSP and SP workers, a rice mill owned by former minister Ram Achal Rajbhar was also set on fire in Ambedkar Nagar’s Sammanpur area. Sammanpur SHO Neeraj Rai was suspended for failing to perform his duties during this violence.
Two men were killed in Allahabad’s Naini area, while Munna Lal, a BSP-backed village chief, was killed in Agra’s Mansukhpur. The assailants, according to villagers, were SP employees.
The violence, however, did not stop here. In Firozabad, a youth was killed by a bullet during a fight between supporters of a defeated SP candidate and police.
Mulayam Singh Yadav, then chief of the Samajwadi Party, was quick to warn his party members that failure to maintain discipline would tarnish the party’s image. “If you people don’t maintain discipline, you will not be able to make me Prime Minister in future. We had worked very hard to win the assembly elections. So please don’t do anything which maligns the government,” he had reportedly told his supporters in Saifai. Unfortunately for Mulayam, a certain someone rose from Gujarat to become the PM.
Akhilesh Yadav, the party’s state president at the time and the man set to become the next Chief Minister, had then called the incidents of violence a conspiracy by those who had been swept away by his party in the polls, primarily some BSP officials.
“No one from the Samajwadi Party (SP) is involved in these incidents. You can get it verified from your own sources as well, but if anyone from the party is found involved, stern action would be taken against them, however strong they might be,” Akhilesh had maintained.
In fact, it may be recalled that Yogi Aditynath has time and again mentioned that the previous SP government had pushed the state of Uttar Pradesh into violence. During his election campaign in February 2022 in Fatehpur Sikri, BJP’s Yogi Adityanath had held the party responsible for the Muzaffarnagar riots and the “killing” of Lord Ram devotees in the past. He was referring to the firing on “kar sevaks” in 1990, when the Samajwadi Party was in power.
As per the reactions of the people on the ground, this image of Samajwadi Party as the party of goons, and Yogi Adityanath’s image of a law and order guy, has played a major part in these elections. Will Samajwadi Party try to change their image, or are they happy with this goons tag, we will find out in 2024 when UP will once again be the PM deciding state.