Maya, Maurya and 'Muft' Ration: How SP Workers in UP Are Decoding the Defeat

From leaders to local workers on ground, SP cadre was upbeat & very confident about their victory in the elections.

4 min read
Hindi Female

It was almost past one in the afternoon on 10 March earlier this month. Crowd outside Samajwadi party (SP) office on Vikramaditya Marg in Lucknow had begun to gradually disperse.

The vans with giant LED display showing real time trends began packing up as Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) took huge lead. A group of supporters, one among them holding a picture of Akhilesh Yadav, standing just outside the main gate of the party office was hanging to a hope of SP win. On camera, they were making claims of reversal of trends and emphatic victory to media persons. However, deep inside their worst fear was coming true.

"We fought for five years. There were several politically motivated cases slapped on us. But we were confident that once the party came to power, we would get our names cleared. There is no hope now. All that we worked for is now gone. We barely have any resources to continue further," the supporter, who wished not to be identified, said.

This is nearly after four decades a party has returned for the successive term in UP thus forcing SP to remain in the opposition. From leaders to the local karykartas on ground, SP cadre was upbeat and very confident about their victory in the elections. But after the outcomes on 10 March, there are several rounds of blame and introspection in the SP unit that is making up for the lull on the ground after a hectic election season.


Maya, Maurya and "Muft" Ration

Akhilesh Yadav has barely made any public appearance since the defeat. He has not he held any press conference either. Media reports of Akhilesh vacating the Karhal assembly seat for Swami Prasad Maurya has made the cadre, trying to come to terms with the defeat, jittery.

"He (Akhilesh) should retain the seat and become the leader of opposition in the assembly. To defeat a party (BJP) which has aggressively shown its presence on the ground, we will have to put twice the effort to outperform them," a senior leader of the party in West UP said.

These observations are a part of elaborate brainstorming SP ground cadre is doing after the defeat which comes across as unanticipated to many in their fold. "When we began reaching out to people during campaigns, it felt like people had begun mobilising against the BJP on core issues of inflation, unemployment and cattle menace. We were confident that we are staging a comeback," Amrendra Yadav, a SP worker in Prayagraj said.

However, BJP managed to retain its mandate, though by a lesser margin than 2017. For opposition, the workers and leaders on ground have begun mapping some main factors which contributed to the drubbing.

"Of what we could figure till now, prima facie we believe three factors severely hurt our chances. Mayawati's vote bank largely drifted to the BJP, Swami Prasad Maurya and other alliance leaders who were supposed to consolidate non-Yadav OBC votes failed to deliver. Lastly, the free ration scheme- which cut across caste and community- worked well for the BJP," Rajpal Singh, a senior SP leader in Meerut said.

District Units, Alliance and Big Names Failed to Fire?

A Samajwadi Party functionary in Varanasi recalls how voters in the Rohaniya assembly seat were confused over the missing cycle symbol in the EVMs. "The party conceded the seat to Apna Dal (Kamerawadi) in the alliance. It was hard to familiarise SP voters with the Apna Dal (K) election symbol- envelope. We would have had a better chance, had the Apna Dal (K) candidate fought on SP symbol (cycle) like Pallavi Patel did in Sirathu," Aman Yadav, a local party functionary said.

SP and Apna Dal (K) entered into alliance ahead of elections but were off to a rocky start after media reports hinting at friction at both ends. The speculation gained momentum after candidates from both parties filed nomination from the Rohaniya seat in Varanasi. However, SP candidates' nomination was rejected.

The SP's alliance with Rastriya Lok Dal landed in troubled waters after RLD workers expressed their displeasure publicly over candidature on some seats including Maat in Mathura and Siwalkhas in Meeurt among many others. Apart from the poor calls made by the party concerning alliance and candidature, foot soldiers believe the party's local units could barely contribute in strengthening the ground presence.

Citing an example, a party worker in Bareilly said,"Party lost on the booth of Neha Yadav, national president of Samajwadi Chatra Sabha, in Bithri Chainpur constituency. She catapulted to the national role in Chatra Sabha after she waved black flag to home minister Amit Shah. This can't be the criterion to elevate a person in the party. We need people who have footprints on ground and can get us votes."


Another party worker in Lucknow claimed the districts units remain suspended for a year from August 2019. The state executive was announced in October last year, barely months ahead of the elections. "This is not how you fight a crucial election. You can't push an Army into war without the General," an SP worker in Lucknow said.

Meanwhile, party insiders feel another factor which added to SP's woes was over confidence of senior leaders. "Bhagwat Saran Gangwar, after demise of his arch rival Kesar Singh became over confident about his victory from Nawabgang in Bareilly. He was defeated by MP Arya who had twice lost to Gangwar in past," an SP worker in Bareilly said.

On the contrary, some SP leaders are being credited for setting the right example. Atul Pradhan, a close aide of Akhilesh Yadav defeated BJP bigwig Sangeet Som from Sardhana seat in Meerut. The win is dubbed to be historic but the local SP cadre saw it coming.

"For the last 10 years, he (Atul) has been involved with the public and was with them through their thick and thin. He was available round the clock. During the pandemic, he actively reached out to people in need. This is a reward of the hard work he put in," Rajpal Singh, a senior SP leader said.

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Topics:  Samajwadi Party   Mayawati   SP 

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