BY FAISAL FAREED
Cornered by the caste card played by the BJP, which has fielded an OBC candidate in Mainpuri, the Samajwadi Party is now looking for castes, other than traditional party supporters Yadavs, to bail out its candidate and party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav’s grand-nephew Tej Pratap Singh.
The Lok Sabha seat, vacated by Mulayam, is going to bypolls on September 13 and Tej Pratap is making his electoral debut.
While BJP has lined up a host of OBC leaders to seek support for Prem Singh Shakya, the SP is in a spot as its voters, Yadavs, are being posed a question — will only a “Saifai brand Yadav” do politics in Mainpuri? The Mulayam family hails from Saifai.
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In 2014 Lok Sabha polls, Yadavs mostly from Jaswantnagar, had supported Mulayam giving him a lead of 1.87 lakh votes. Shakyas and Mauryas, who are next to Yadavs in numbers, are now being targeted by the SP. Minister of state Alok Kumar Shakya who also represents Bhogaon Assembly seat in Mainpuri has been asked to step up his activities among his community. Cabinet Minister Shivpal Yadav is meeting important leaders from Shakya community. Alok has limited appeal among the Shakyas. Even Mulayam during, the Lok Sabha election, trailed in Bhogaon by 1,140 votes.
The SP is hoping to make a dent in Thukur votes as the community feels it has been duped by BJP, which has denied a man from the community the party ticket. In Lok Sabha poll, BJP had fielded S S Chauhan, a Thakur who was placed second to Mulayam. The community feels Chauhan stood a better chance of winning now. SP has planned meetings of ministers like Arvind Singh Gope and other Kshatriya leaders to woo the Thakurs.
The Brahmins have traditionally supported Mulayam in Mainpuri. Irrespective of BJP’s growing influence, the community is expected to remain loyal to the Yadavs of Saifai.
For nearly 1.50 lakh Lodhs, SP has little hope. With no Lodh leader in its fold, SP realises that it can hardly claim their vote while BJP is aggressively campaigning with Sachidanand Sakshi and Mukesh Rajput, both Lodh MPs, concentrating on Mainpuri.
The only safe bet for SP remain the Muslims who are hardly 50,000 in the LS seat.
Dalits too are giving sleepless nights to SP leaders. In 2009, they had voted for BSP candidate who polled nearly 1.42 lakh votes.
Samjawadi Party MP Dharmendra Yadav who also had represented Mainpuri in the past and is aware about the equations has been entrusted to keep tab on Dalit voters.