All eyes are set on Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, who would be starting his “Samajwadi Vikas Rath” yatra this Thursday on a red coloured Rath, having life size picture of his riding a bicycle. While Akhilesh had undertaken a similar yatra across UP before 2012 assembly elections but lot has changed since then. In 2012, Akhilesh’s campaign trail termed as “Samajwadi Kranti Rath” yatra then had become noticeable only after first few phases of election had passed. Akhilesh was travelling with his team, trying to establish himself as young face of Samajwadi Party and there was not much at stake for him then.
WATCH VIDEO: UP Polls: Vikas Rath Yatra Flagged Off By Samajwadi Party Patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav
However, this time, he would start the yatra as a Chief Minister of one of the most politically active state, speaking about development and infrastructure projects as well as social welfare schemes, which he has undertaken during his regime. He is challenging opposition for debate on development.
Amidst the ongoing family feud within Samajwadi Party, he would also talk about his attempts to change the perception about his party in the past i.e. being “anti-English and anti-computers”. He would talk about how he launched English medium government primary schools and not to mention his close to heart, laptop distribution scheme.
It is clear that within the party as well as outside, he is focusing on youth as he would be starting on the first day from Lucknow addressing about 15 public meetings on his way to neighbouring Unnao district. Schedule for the yatra ahead has not yet been revealed yet.
Incidentally, he has chosen the same ground i.e. La Martiniere, to start his yatra, where he had taken oath as Chief Minister about five years ago.
Sources inform that Akhilesh would take a break to be in Lucknow on November 5 for the silver jubilee celebrations of his party. The function is largely being associated with his uncle Shivpal Singh Yadav, state president of the party. Ironically, while Akhilesh’s rath also has picture of Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, there is no mention of him on Akhilesh’s vikas rath.
Both the Rath yatra and the celebration are taking place at a time when there are talk of “reuniting Janta Pariwar”. While Lalu Prasad Yadav of RJD as well as Ajit Singh of Rashtriya Lok Dal are likely to be present for SP’s celebrations but Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar is likely to give it a miss. The fact, however, remains that none of the parties are ready to commit anything as yet. Congress poll strategist Prashant Kishore reportedly met Mulayam Singh Yadav and Amar Singh but Congress is still in the wait and watch situation, when it comes to talks of negotiations.
“Neither have we been invited nor did we go to anyone’s door,” said a Congress leader on the possibilities of alliance for UP polls. Not to mention, these parties are still not confident about the exact roles to be played by Mulayam, Akhilesh or Shivpal and who would be more powerful than the other. “First let them decide among themselves,” said another leader.
Amidst this fluid situation and prevailing doubts, everyone including his own party leaders as well as opposition, is watching the response that Akhilesh would get from public during his yatra.