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.
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There are many reasons for the SP’s poor performance.
* 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 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 allegedly sabotaging the elections , while half-a-dozen candidates switched loyalties. Over reliance on Muslim clericsalso 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,” said Syed Ahmed Bukhari, Imam of Delhi’s Jama Masjid.
* The SP also failed to nurture its frontal youth organisations. Its workers inflicted further damage due to their lumpen behaviour.
AKHILESH’S FACEBOOK POST
“Politicians, journalists and experts will analyse this election for many days to come. Leaders will continue to argue and disagree with issues and ideologies. A lot will be lost in these debates. What should never be forgotten is the people’s verdict. I respect and accept the people’s mandate.”