How June 2 changed the political landscape of Uttar Pradesh

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How June 2 changed the political landscape of Uttar Pradesh

Lucknow: Twenty-nine years ago, on June 2, 1995, an incident took place that permanently scarred the political landscape of Uttar Pradesh and altered social and political alignments in the state.

On this day, Mayawati, then merely a representative of Kanshi Ram, arrived in Lucknow to take a meeting of 67 BSP MLAs. The BSP at that time, was a part of the SP-BSP coalition government in Uttar Pradesh, headed by Mulayam Singh Yadav.

Mayawati had been visiting Lucknow every month to ‘take stock of the situation’ and had clearly voiced her dissatisfaction over the prevailing situation.

When the meeting began, there were murmurs that the BSP was planning to pull out of the coalition.

Half an hour after the BSP meeting began in the Mirabai State Guest House, SP MLAs with their supporters barged in and allegedly assaulted BSP MLAs and tried to take them hostage.

Mayawati, with the remaining MLAs, locked herself up in a room while SP supporters continued to hurl abuses and bang on the door.

The drama continued for almost 30 hours, power lines were snapped and there was no food supply either.

Finally, the then Prime Minister Narasimha Rao intervened. The Mulayam Singh government was dismissed and a strong police force was sent to the state guest house to ‘rescue’ Mayawati and her MLAs.

On the night of June 3, 1995, Mayawati was sworn in as chief minister with support from BJP.

The incident led to the rise and rise of Mayawati as a Dalit leader and also the simultaneous decline in the importance of Kanshi Ram within the BSP. His poor health was cited as the main reason.

Mayawati, as chief minister, targeted officials who were perceived to be ‘close’ to the Samajwadi camp.

Former UP DGP O P Singh, a 1983-batch Indian Police Service officer who was SSP Lucknow at the time of the incident, has come out with his memoir ‘Crime, Grime & Gumption: Case Files of an IPS Officer’ and dedicated a long chapter to this infamous and controversial episode.

Singh retired from service in January 2020 and headed two central forces –the CISF and the NDRF– during his 37 years of service in the police services.

Calling the ‘guest house’ incident an ‘indecorous’ political drama in the history of modern-day India under a chapter titled ‘Tsunami Years’, he says this event “not only changed the politics in UP but impacted the politics of the country as a whole”.

Singh was among those who faced Mayawati’s ire and was promptly suspended when she took over as chief minister.

The state guest house incident, more importantly, created a deep divide between Dalits and OBCs –mainly Yadavs — and this exists till date.

In her initial days as chief minister, Mayawati used the Guest House Incident to lash out at the Samajwadi Party at every available opportunity.

However, later in the years, she refused to entertain questions on the issue and in 2019, even agreed to an alliance with SP.

When asked, she claimed that Mulayam Singh Yadav was responsible for what had happened and since it was now his son Akhilesh who was at the helm of affairs, she had decided to give him another chance.

However, the results of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls proved that the Dalit-Yadav divide had not been repaired and the two caste groups were still at war. Even though Mayawati won 10 seats and SP was left with five, the BSP called off the alliance.

In the just concluded elections, there are clear reports that non-Jatav Dalits who have distanced themselves from the BSP, have opted for BJP instead of SP — a clear indication that the caste divide has not repaired itself yet.

 


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