Just two years after the Samajwadi Party won the assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh, the party managed to win only five Lok Sabha seats – all from where either party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, who was nursing prime ministerial ambitions, or his family members were contesting.
Mulayam was leading in Mainpuri and Azamgarh, his nephews Akshay Yadav and Dharmendra Yadav from Ferozabad and Badaun respectively, and daughter-in-law Dimple Yadav from Kannauj. The SP even lost to the BJP in Mulayam’s home district of Etawah.
BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi had held only one rally at Bharthana in Etawah on April 18 where he had targeted Mulayam. Modi had also invoked his relations with the Yadavs of the region and expressed sympathy.
A day before the results, SP spokesperson Rajendra Choudhary had said the party would win half the seats. On Friday, Choudhary said it was a victory of communal forces.
There are many reasons for the SP’s poor performance.
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The SP failed to foresee the strength of the Modi wave, thinking it would remain confined to pockets. Modi, however, capitalised on his appeal. Candidates became immaterial and the caste lines, on which UP normally votes, blurred.
The communal riots in Muzaffarnagar remained a blot on Akhilesh Yadav’s government. Besides a failure on the law and order front, the riots also polarised votes. The BJP stood to gain, winning all the 10 seats in western UP, including Muzaffarnagar and adjoining areas.
Misgovernance in the state with several power centres gave out the message of a weak government. Non-performance of its ministers added to the SP’s problems. Even after two years, none of the ministers of state have been given any work by their senior ministers.
The party was also hit by severe infighting. It changed nearly 35 candidates, sacked three ministers for allegegly sabotaging the polls, while half-a-dozen candidates switched loyalties. Over reliance on Muslim clerics, who were given undue importance and direct entry to the CM’s residence, also affected the party.
“The SP remained soft on the BJP, hoping the polarisation would gain it Muslim votes. It fielded a weak candidate against Rajnath Singh. But the party’s assessment went wrong,” said Syed Ahmed Bukhari, Imam of Delhi’s Jama Masjid.
* The SP also failed to nurture its frontal youth organisations. Its unruly workers inflicted further damage due to their lumpen behaviour as they thrashed toll plaza workers across the state.