Not long ago, the Samajwadi Party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav was at the forefront when efforts were being made to unite the ‘Janata Parivar’ in opposition to the BJP ahead of the Assembly polls in Bihar. The alliance was planned as a secular platform to foil the BJP’s attempt to wrest power in the politically crucial state. But, a clash of egos soon saw Mulayam walking out from the grouping.
Clearly, Mulayam would be regretting the decision now. If he had continued with the Grand Alliance (GA), he would have been one of the main challengers of Narendra Modi in the 2019 General Election. His advisors failed to test the ground realities in Bihar.
It was Mulayam who intervened to resolve differences between RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav and JD(U) leader Nitish Kumar over the projection of Nitish as the chief ministerial candidate ahead of the election campaign. But, Mulayam did not stick for long because of the developments that followed.
It was Nitish’s failure to attend a conclave of the GA convened at Mulayam’s residence, which proved to be damaging for internal relations. Mulayam wanted Nitish to join the huddle of six Janata Parivar leaders in order to reunite political forces to fight the BJP. But, Nitish kept the group waiting as he was holding talks with Congress president Sonia Gandhi for an alliance with her party. Sources say that some top aides of Mulayam provoked him by saying that Nitish preferred the Congress over the SP.
Nitish knew the ground realities in Bihar better than anybody else. His political judgment in forming an alliance with the Congress has paid rich dividends with the party winning 27 seats in the state. Whereas Samajwadi Party failed to open its account despite forming a parallel front including Sharad Pawar’s Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and Pappu Yadav’s Jan Adhikar Morcha among others.
The Mulayam-led alliance failed miserably because it fought elections in Bihar just for the sake of opposing the GA. It fielded mostly dejected candidates from other political parties who had failed to secure tickets. Despite no proper organisational structure in Bihar, they fought all the 243 seats.
Sources in the SP admit that most party leaders such as Azam Khan and Shivpal Singh Yadav were not in favour of severing the alliance with the Nitish-Lalu duo. Shivpal Singh Yadav even went to Patna to attend the Swabhiman rally on 30 August, as a mark of SP’s solidarity with the GA.
But, Ram Gopal Yadav, who is considered to be the think tank of the party, did not approve of Nitish’s behaviour and went to the extent of passing a resolution in the parliamentary board of the party for quitting the alliance in order to ‘honour the feelings of party workers’.
However, the verdict is out and the SP has missed the bus. As for affairs at the SP, Ram Gopal himself may soon face the heat of a scam involving Noida engineer Yadav Singh, who has been accused of extorting money for politicians and forming various companies to launder the money for their kin and family associates. The matter is currently under CBI investigation and the Enforcement Directorate will continue to hound the state polity.
Meanwhile, RJD state President Ashok Singh says, “Both Lalu Prasad Yadav and Nitish Kumar have shown their humbleness by calling Mulayam their leader. Both the leaders have said that the Mahagathbandhan’s doors are always open for him.” Mulayam, along with his brother Shivpal Yadav and son Akhilesh Yadav has also congratulated Nitish and Lalu on their historic victory.
In the light of the Bihar poll strategy, it is the time for the ruling SP in Uttar Pradesh to introspect on what it gained from alienating itself from the secular front. In one way, Bihar has shown UP that politics of polarisation will not work for anyone. Only good governance, better law and order, accessible civic amenities and infrastructural development is the key to political success. Above all, a freehand to CM Akhilesh Yadav to perform without interference from his father and uncles is the need of the hour for the SP in UP.