The split in the Samajwadi pariwar in Uttar Pradesh has intensified to a point that there are now talks of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav floating his own political outfit soon. If the Samajwadi Party does split, Akhilesh will have to create a robust political organisation like the one his father has set up over the past many decades to be able to take on the rest of the yadav clan. Also, father Mulayam Singh Yadav and uncle Shivpal Yadav will do every bit possible to cut Akhilesh’s support base among the middle class and Yadav voters. The bigger concern, however, will be the ability of either faction to hold on to crucial Muslim votes.
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The divide in the party will most likely benefit the BSP, which has been able to consolidate the Muslim votes in the past too. BSP chief Mayawati started her poll campaign asking the Muslim community to vote for her as supporting the SP could benefit the Bharatiya Janata Party. Her campaign coupled with the spree of gau rakshak attacks on Muslims and Dalits have strongly polarised the electorate and made it an ideal scenario for the BSP. Muslims have backed Mulayam for decades, but the infighting in SP ahead of its silver jubilee celebrations only means the party, whoever is at the helm, will have to manage this crucial vote bank shrewdly in the run up to the elections.
And the split in SP seems imminent unless some serious fire-fighting happens soon. Mulayam has stifled Akhilesh’s authority in the party and the state government. There are even chances of his taking away the reigns of power from his son. If this happens the Akhilesh faction will find it hard to cash in on the SP vote bank thanks to Mulayam’s personal connect with the Yadav and the Muslim communities — the mainstay of the party.
In Akhilesh’s favour is the pro-growth policies and agendas of his four years in power, much in contrast to the “goonda” culture symbolic of previous SP governments. The Yadav community has accepted their “Akhilesh bhaiya” as a leader who understands their development needs and is seemingly willing to work to that effect rather than pander to Mulayam and Amar Singh’s whims. It takes courage to stand up to Mulayam in the SP and events of the past few weeks have made Akhilesh a hero for some, though it doesn’t make Mulayam a villain.
The rumours mills do suggest a complicated equation between Mulayam and his son. Going against his father means losing the party’s reins, but Akhilesh seemed up to it. It seems that the young Yadav has decided to break away the shackles put on him by his father and assert himself as a serious player in the UP political battleground. After sacking controversial ministers from his Cabinet like Gayatri Prajapati, Akhilesh had emerged as someone who identifies with the concerns of the middle class working voters. Now, it remains to be seen if Akhilesh will go all out against his own party in these elections.