Much like the drubbing it received in the recently concluded Lok Sabha elections, despondent Samajwadi Party legislators believe the party will be defeated in the 2017 Assembly elections due to “religious polarisation” across the state.
“We cannot contest elections. Such is the extent of religious polarisation that except Yadavs and Muslims, no one is ready to vote for us. We cannot get votes from the sky for you, we have our votes but cannot get votes from other communities,” an MLA told SP president Mulayam Singh Yadav in a closed-door introspection meeting held at party’s state headquarters Friday.
Another legislator added: “I did development work for Rs 4.5 crore in a village where other communities are dominant. We got only 17 out of 1,200 votes from that village.”
At this, Mulayam remarked that “nearly 30 per cent of the sitting MLAs will lose in the Assembly elections.”
Another MLA quickly responded: “Nearly 70 per cent will lose (in the elections) even if you give them tickets in the present scenario.”
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Surprisingly, Brahmin and Thakur MLAs remained silent during the meeting, which was also attended by Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav and senior party leader Shivpal Yadav.
Earlier, Mulayam said the party had won in only 42 Assembly segments in the Lok Sabha elections. The issue of running welfare schemes for Muslims, too, was raised, with legislators claiming that it sent out a wrong message to other communities. However, Mulayam rejected the objection, saying: “Remember these schemes were in our manifesto and we won the polls on that basis.”
The legislators also raised their voice against ministers in Akhilesh’s cabinet. Secondary education minister Iqbal Mehmood of Sambhal and Parasnath Yadav of Jaunpur were targeted. SP’s national general secretary and Rajya Sabha member Naresh Agrawal also came under attack. “He (Agrawal) is openly saying in Hardoi that to remain in SP one has to recite Naresh Chalisa. Why have you given so much power to him ?,” asked legislators from Hardoi. They claimed Agrawal sabotaged the prospects of SP candidates in Hardoi and Mishrikh seats.
Sensing the mood, Mulayam asked: “How do we wash the stains of these ministers?”
Several legislators promptly said: “Change all of them.”
Many legislators demanded that those ministers, where the SP lost in their assembly segments, should be removed. There are 44 such ministers.
The team members of Akhilesh, many of whom enjoyed Minister of State status, were attacked. “They squandered their time and did nothing for the party. All were busy in their own work and hardly worked for the party,” the legislators alleged.
Mulayam asked Akhilesh to review the performance of such youth leaders.
Three legislators — Sarojini Agrawal of Meerut who is said to be close to senior minister Azam Khan, Sharda Pratap Shukla of Sarojini Nagar, and Kuldeep Sengar of Unnao — were reprimanded by Mulayam for their interference and poor performance in their assembly segments.
Later, in a bid to boost the morale of his legislators, Mulayam said Modi’s aura will be over in six months and SP leaders should make their presence felt among people.
He also warned them of BJP’s UP in-charge Amit Shah, saying he is very “dangerous”. “Your officials, too, had met him, check it. It is not a good sign,” Mulayam told Akhilesh.