A week after it suffered defeats in two Lok Sabha by-elections, the Samajwadi Party (SP) on Sunday announced it was dissolving its national, state, and district executive bodies, including its youth, traders, spokesperson, and women’s wings. Only the party’s UP chief Naresh Uttam Patel has retained his position.
“Samajwadi Party national president Akhilesh Yadav has with immediate effect dissolved the party’s national, state and district executive bodies, except the state president’s post. National presidents, state presidents, district presidents of all the party’s organisations, including youth and women’s wings, have also been dissolved,” the party announced on Twitter.
Senior party leaders said the decision was taken in light of the bypoll losses in Azamgarh and Rampur that were once considered its strongholds. SP president Akhilesh Yadav also received backlash from within the party and allies for not campaigning during the by-elections. A few party leaders even blamed Akhilesh’s absence for the defeats.
A senior SP leader told The Indian Express, “We need to change the approach. We have some strategies. The idea behind dissolving all the party’s units is to change the structure of the party. It will be done. We will fight the 2024 elections with all our might and a new organisation on all levels.”
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The party functionary added, “In July and August, the SP is going to run a state-wide membership drive and in September, we will have a meeting with all senior leaders of the party from different levels. Decisions will be taken on who is appointed to which posts. All the 14 wings of the party will get new presidents, secretaries, and other office-bearers.”
The SP’s allies have been unhappy with it and have started questioning it since the loss in the Assembly elections earlier this year. Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party (SBSP) leader Om Prakash Rajbhar took a dig at Akhilesh on June 28, commenting that he should get out of “AC rooms” if he wanted to defeat the BJP. In an interview with news agency PTI on Sunday, Rajbhar, when asked if he would continue the alliance, said, “Till now, it is continuing.”
On June 29, amid increasing criticism, SP national spokesperson Rajendra Choudhary defended Yadav and said he had “proved to be the only obstruction for the BJP”. Choudhary added, “Only Akhilesh Yadav is the target of the BJP’s conspirators… For the 2024 Lok Sabha polls, not only will he hold public meetings in all zones and Vidhan Sabhas. But in between, he will also visit districts of the state”.
Some SP leaders said successive defeats in Assembly polls showed that the party needed an organisational overhaul. In the elections held this February and March, the SP won 111 seats, with its allies SBSP and the Rashtriya Lok Dal winning six and eight seats respectively. It fell way short of the majority mark. The incumbent BJP, with 255 seats in the 403-member house, returned to power, a feat that had not happened in Uttar Pradesh for 37 years.
In the 2017 Assembly polls, the SP only won 47 seats, while the BJP swept the elections with 312 constituencies. In the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, the SP and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) came together but could not stop the BJP, which won 62 of the 80 parliamentary seats in the state. The SP won five and the BSP bagged 10.
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