For the second day after the Lok Sabha results gave the party just five seats, Samajwadi Party leaders Mulayam Singh Yadav and Akhilesh Yadav did not entertain any visitors. While Akhilesh didn’t emerge from his CM residence, Mulayam arrived in Lucknow on Saturday and both were closeted holding talks.
PWD and Irrigation Minister Shivpal Yadav, Mulayam’s brother, told The Indian Express the setback was “totally unexpected” and the BJP vote share of nearly 42 per cent in the state “too much”. “We had never even thought of such a result,” he said.
Shivpal admitted that they had hoped to get 20-25 seats. All the five seats that the SP eventually won had Mulayam or his family members as contestants.
It was left to Prisons Minister Rajendra Choudhary to field media questions at the SP office, where he gathered inputs from candidates who lost.
Taking calls from dejected candidates and workers himself at his residence, Shivpal told them not to lose heart. Putting up a brave face, he said, “This happens in politics. In 1991, we got only four seats but formed the government in 1993… Niraash hein lekin hataash nahin (We are disappointed, but not despondent). Even Indira Gandhi lost all the seats in 1977. We will return.”
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Perhaps the first tasks before Akhilesh as he faces a rejuvenated BJP is to promote youth workers, who have been pushed to the background by senior leaders and ministers. The SP’s caste calculations failed in the polls as well its claims of development work and welfare schemes, which fell flat in the face.