Justice Markandey Katju-
Justice Markandey Katju is a former Judge, Supreme Court of India, and former Chairman, Press Council of India. The views expressed are his own.
Before the Mahabharat war, the Pandav and Kaurav elders sat together and agreed on the rules of warfare ( like the Geneva Conventions and other laws of war under international law ). There must be no fighting after sunset or before sunrise, a man on foot must not be attacked by one on a horse or a chariot, there must be no striking below the navel, or attack on a man without a weapon, etc.
But during the course of the war all these rules were broken one by one ( as in the Second World War ). Dronacharya and Karna were killed when they had laid down their arms, Duryodhan was hit by Bheem with a ‘gada’ below the navel, and Aswattthama attacked the Pandav soldiers when they were sleeping.
The same is likely to happen in the coming UP Assembly elections scheduled for February 2022, in which no holds will be barred, as it is seen as a semi-final to the 2024 parliamentary elections, and therefore a life and death struggle. In fact, the war seems to have already broken out though the elections are still 7 months away.
UP is the biggest state in India, with a population as big as Pakistan ( over 200 million ). So the political destiny of India largely depends on what happens here
Violence erupted in UP during and after the recent panchayat and block pramukh elections.
The same trend is continuing, though in diverse ways.
Like frogs who emerge during the rains, politicians like Mayawati have suddenly started speaking out, attacking both the Samajwadi Party and the BJP. Not to be outdone, Asadudin Owaisi has also traveled north, and descended into the fray, attacking the BJP, though he is perceived by some to be a BJP agent whose job is to divide the Muslim vote bank.
Akhilesh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party is perceived by some to be the main challenger to the ruling BJP
The SP claims to represent the OBCs ( Other Backward Castes ). The OBCs are about 40% of UP’s population, but they are not one caste but several. The Yadavs, who are about 9-10%, are solidly with SP, but what about the remaining 30% OBCs like Kurmis, Lodhs, Gujars, etc ? Many of them supported the BJP in earlier elections because they had a grievance that SP only cares for Yadavas, and gives them plum postings of DM, SSP, daroga, etc. Whom will they support in February 2022?
The same is the question about the non-Jatav Scheduled Castes. Will they support Mayawati’s BSP or the BJP ?
And will the elections be fair? Both the Central and State Governments are of the BJP. So obviously the entire state machinery will be used to benefit the BJP. What is relevant is not what goes into the ballot box. What is relevant is what emerges out of it ( or the EVM machine ). After all, all is fair in love and war.
As Mamata Banerjee said, “ab khela hobe.”