Akhilesh Yadav Resurgent in UP, Wakes up to Challenge BJP

Akhilesh Yadav’s next agenda is simple, he says. The SP will “expose the BJP,” he said in a recent press conference.

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Politics
3 min read
Akhilesh has reportedly been taking notes from the SP’s failure in the 2017 UP elections.
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Banished into political hibernation after a humiliating drubbing in the 2017 Assembly elections, the Samajwadi Party (SP) of late seems to have got its voice and bearings back, led by its young leader and party chief, former chief minister Akhilesh Yadav.

After a gap of almost 10 months, the Yadav scion has, in the past one month, not only been vocal in his criticism of the Yogi Adityanath government but has also established the "missing connect" with party cadres, especially the youth.

Reduced to 47 in a 403-member Assembly, the SP has been struggling to remain centre-stage even as the 325-member-strong Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) gallops from one electoral victory to another in the state.

Akhilesh Takes Notes From 2017 UP Elections Failure

Akhilesh has been meeting party workers from every nook and corner of the state in the past few weeks for their feedback on what went wrong in the Assembly polls where its numbers shrank from a high of 224.

Party insiders say that “bhaiyya-ji” – as he is fondly called by his followers – has decided to stop sulking at the electoral losses and rather garner strength to take on the BJP’s might with renewed vigour.

He has also begun work on setting the caste combinations and demographic arithmetic right. Yadav is said to have worked the wires with opposition party leaders in December 2017, trying to forge a front that could collectively counter the BJP's might.

This came as a surprise to many, mostly those who think Akhilesh Yadav is hesitant in getting off the high horse and getting into "realistic" politics of "some sense, camaraderie".

“Agenda is to Expose the BJP,” Says Akhilesh

Yadav not only initiated a process where opposition party leaders were brought on the same page against what the SP terms as manipulation of the electronic voting machines (EVMs) but has also authorised state party leaders to begin similar talks with like-minded leaders and legislators in other parties.

We are trying to take the help of all parties in exposing the BJP.
Rajendra Chowdhary, Former Minister

Yadav himself has pointed out that he has "understood the game of the BJP" and would now "take on the electoral war of the BJP in their own style".

Loha, lohe ko katta hai, ab hum Bhajpa ko usi ki bhasha mein samjhayenge (Iron will clash with iron, and the BJP will be made to understand, in their own language).
Akhilesh Yadav, in a recent press conference

The SP is already admitting in its fold leaders of various castes like Nishads, Thakurs, and Brahmins. A lot of Muslims have also returned to the party in the past few weeks. The party has so far distanced itself from the Congress and is focussing on rebuilding its cadre and boosting the morale of the crestfallen faithful. But is this enough? Opinion is divided.

Akhilesh Working on “Fixing SP’s Image”

While political observers see a shift in Akhilesh's attitude of late and view it as a welcome sign that he is trying to unite the opposition forces and simultaneously rebuild the SP, they feel a sustained campaign against the BJP government, both at the Centre and the state, is the need of the hour. Reining in the lumpen cadre in the party is another challenge. At a recent press conference, his cadre took over the auditorium, forcing journalists to leave in a huff.

Akhilesh finally apologised for the unruly behaviour of his party cadres. Clearly, he realises the pitfalls of being caught in the old image of the party. Now, time will tell how much he can change his own party, make it battle ready and challenge the might of the so far unstoppable BJP.

(This piece has been republished in an arrangement with IANS.)

(We Indians have much to talk about these days. But what would you tell India if you had the chance? Pick up the phone and write or record your Letter To India. Don’t be silent, tell her how you feel. Mail us your letter at lettertoindia@thequint.com. We’ll make sure India gets your message.)

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