Akhilesh Is Right to Distance Himself From Mulayam’s ‘Samajwadis’
What Akhilesh needs now is a new beginning, a brand new team and perhaps some new alliances.
- Samajwadi Party’s 2012 win in Uttar Pradesh had a clear message – UP was looking for its own Nitish Kumar
- His promises before the 2012 elections were not ‘Samajwadi’ types
- He created an image distinct from old Samajwadis, something the SP old guard could never comprehend
- The party’s split, therefore, was inevitable
- What Akhilesh needs now is a new beginning, a brand new team and perhaps some new alliances
Fewer Yadavs voted for the Samajwadi Party in the 2012 Assembly elections. The party’s support base among Muslims was close to an all-time low. But still the Samajwadis won an absolute majority for the first time, proving all political pundits wrong.
The loss of support among its core voters – Yadavs and Muslims – was more than compensated by an overwhelming response from Brahmins, Rajputs, non-Jatav scheduled castes and lower other backward classes (OBCs). It was a rare coalition of disparate social groups voting for the Samajwadi Party.
Nearly a fifth of all Brahmins and 26 percent of Rajputs had voted for the SP in the 2012 Assembly elections. The party got only 66 percent of Yadav votes and only 39 percent Muslim votes (down from 45 percent in 2007), according to the 2012 Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS) data.
Why did this happen? Was it Mulayam Singh Yadav’s old magic or something else that worked in favour of the professed socialist party?
What Makes Akhilesh the Popular Choice?
The verdict had a clear message – UP was looking for its own Nitish Kumar and they believed in what Akhilesh Yadav had promised in the run-up to the elections.
And the latest opinion poll done by CSDS indicates that the people of Uttar Pradesh are willing to give Akhilesh one more chance. According to the poll, Akhilesh is way ahead of his nearest rival Bahujan Samaj Party’s Mayawati as the most preferred choice of chief minister.
And his party is expected to win all the votes (nearly 30 percent) it got last time. The BJP is seen to be getting 27 percent and the BSP a distant third with 22 percent votes. If the actual verdict follows this pattern, it will mean massive erosion of the BJP’s vote share compared to the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, and improvement in vote shares of the SP and the BSP.
What makes Akhilesh a popular choice despite constant wrangling inside the Yadav parivar? Is it enough to give him another term, bucking anti-incumbency in UP which has given four different results in the last four elections? The answer partly lies in the way Akhilesh has conducted himself and how he has sought to change the political discourse in the state which is otherwise known for getting divided along caste and communal lines.
Akhilesh: The Non-Samajwadi Type
Akhilesh’s poll promises before the 2012 elections – that included free laptops for students – were not Samajwadi types. All through his first term, he is seen to be working on building expressways and metros in different cities.
He promised a better power situation and has almost delivered. He has talked about food parks, IT parks, investment zones, industrial corridors, modernisation of police forces and online registration of FIRs.
These ideas have been alien to a majority of the people in state. The fact that he delivered on some and seen to be delivering on some others has given him an image distinct from old Samajwadis.
The problem is Akhilesh could never convince other Samajwadis, his father Mulayam Singh Yadav included, of the meaning of the 2012 verdict. Mulayam, like most other political patriarchs, took the results as vindication of his style of politics. As a result, Akhilesh was reduced to just one of what is derisively called four-and-a-half chief ministers.
The Samajwadi Pari-War is Not Surprising
The verdict of 2014 Lok Sabha elections was a wake-up call. Akhilesh began to flex his muscles which was too much for the old guard to stomach. The division of the party therefore was inevitable.
The split in the Samjwadi Party therefore is not a surprise. What is very surprising is the time taken by Akhilesh Yadav to understand the underlying message of the 2012 verdict.
A better understanding of people’s mandate earlier would have saved him many blushes. Has the realisation come slightly late in the day?
What Akhilesh needs is a new beginning, a brand new team and perhaps some new alliances. The more quickly he does this, the more easier it will be for him to retrieve the lost ground.
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