No sign of patch up between the two warring SP factions

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SP Supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav With Shivpal Singh & Amar Singh - 3With the no apparent sign of a patch up between Samajwadi Party founder Mulayam Singh Yadav and his son and Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav before the Election Commission (EC) takes a final decision over the party symbol on January 13, it looks like the younger generation would prevail over the old guard to forge new political alignment of power balancing in Uttar Pradesh.

This could transform into new political equations. This may also see the belligerent young SP Chief Minister part ways from the party’s traditional anti-Congress stance and embrace Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi with bag and baggage shows his haste to go for a electoral tie-up in order to take on the challenge thrown by the saffron party in the state.

Paradigm shift

A shift in the ideology of the party is perhaps one of the possible reasons for the recent estrangement between Mulayam and his son. The senior Yadav had ruled the politics of caste identity and was mainly responsible for the alienation of a large section of Backward Classes from the Congress stronghold, resulting in the party’s ouster from the Hindi heartland state.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi election campaign during the 2014 general polls proved to be the turning point for many who realised that days of caste politics were partly over following a rise in the education level of the electorate and their participation in the election process.

Good governance coupled with development played an important role as they closely brought Modi’s campaign to the centrestage of power with resounding, absolute majority. Akhilesh, who came to power in 2012 riding on a wave of popularity, was shocked as to how his party could face a humiliating defeat at the hands of BJP; the Yadavs could barely save face by winning five seats. Statistics show that the defeat handed down to the SP was absolute —BJP snatched 21 Lok Sabha seats the SP.

Honing his public image

Thereafter Akhilesh became proactive and overassertive to push his development-oriented public image. He launched and inaugurated many infrastructural development projects to present a fresh and uncorrupt image to the electorate as against the baggage that the party was known to carry — criminals and hooligans.

The Chief Minister took advantage from projects such the Lucknow-Agra Expressway, Lucknow Metro, and the IT city project in Lucknow. Last month, he inaugurated over a dozen projects worth more than 5,000 crore in Lucknow. In eastern UP, where the SP commands a strong base, his government is developing the 354-km Samajwadi Purvanchal Expressway. His ministers are actively popularising the government’s pension and farmers’ insurance schemes among the voters of their areas.

Despite emerging as a potential Chief Minister candidate in the 2017 Assembly polls, Akhilesh was stuck in inner party conflicts as his party faced a split. His supporters dethroned partry patriarch Mulayam from the post of national president and elected him (Akhilesh) in his place. Hurt, Mulayam accompanied by his uncle Shivpal and Mulayam’s loyalist Amar Singh went to the EC and informed it that his cousin, Ram Gopal Yadav, whom he had expelled from the party before he convened a meeting wherein Akhilesh was elected as the national president. It is not legal, he maintained. He also demurred that he still was the SP national president and to invite his son back into the party fold, offered him the post of CM.

It entails a series of events narrating a story of rank political opportunism that most SP office-bearers, MLAs, MPs went with Akhilesh’s faction and deserted Mulayam’s faction.The infighting is now pending adjudication before the EC over which faction gets the party symbol. While the father blames Ram Gopal, Akhilesh blames Amar Singh for creating a division in the party at the BJP’s insistence, but none of them showed any signs of maturity due to their inflated ego. Political observers feel that “ultimately Mulayam as a father will see his victory in the success of his son”.

A force to reckon with Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) has become a force for all political parties who opine they cannot defeat the saffron party on their own. Modi claimed to have addressed biggest rally of his political career in Lucknow on January 2, 2017 asking for a change in the state government. Appealing to the people of the state to usher in change by installing a stable BJP government for good governance, he blamed these parties for misusing the grants sent by the Union government for the welfare of poor and weaker sections.

The state BJP has been geared up for UP Assembly elections soon after winning in Maharashtra. Om Prakash Mathur, MP, in-charge of Maharashtra, was made in-charge of UP polls. A BJP National Vice President, he is spearheading the party campaign strategy much before the demonetisation. Narrating about activities undertaken by the party cadre, BJP state media in-charge Harish Chandra Srivastva told Tehelka that 400 video raths have been deployed in the state almost one in the each assembly constituency displaying publicity material on big LCD screen fitted on it.

PM Modi’s campaign during 2014 polls was the turning point for many who realised that days of caste politics were partly over

The party beside ‘Parivartan Sandesh Yatras’ and rallies at regional level had organised Youth, Women, and Backward classes conventions. “We have organised ‘Kamal Mela,’ ‘Alaav Sabha’ and ‘Mati Tilak Pratigya’ programmes in the rural areas among farmers showcasing our plans for them,” he added.
BSP has been silently canvassing for its 401 officially declared candidates as against 403 assembly seats, while BJP, Congress and Samajwadi Party are in the process of selecting their candidates. BJP has convened a meeting of Central Parliamentary Board on January 15 to finalise the list of candidates as state election committee has authorised state BJP president Keshav Prasad Mourya to make his recommendations with regard to selection of candidates.

Newly proclaimed SP President Akhilesh Yadav has also given tickets to most of his trusted supporters, but the possibility of his tie-up with Congress and Rashtriya Lok Dal is delaying the final outcome. The dispute with regard to party symbol is further delaying his election campaign.

The party cadre will celebrate BSP supremo Mayawati’s birthday, which falls on January 15 in as many as 401 constituencies. In response to SP slogan ‘Kaam Bolta Hai’ (work speaks for itself), the BSP campaign would focus on poor law and order situation and atrocities on weaker sections ‘Behanji ko aane do, betiyon ko muskarane do’ (Bring Behanji to power, bring smiles on daughters’ faces). Mayawati claimed that no other party in the state has potential to counter BJP in Uttar Pradesh.

Mayawati denied the perception that her party has a casteist mindset as it has practiced social harmony among all sections of society that could be established from the balance she displayed in ticket distribution pattern. BSP fielded 97 Muslims, 104 upper caste, 113 Other Backward Classes (OBCs) and 87 Scheduled Caste (SCs) candidates in the fray. Mayawati’s political skills in caste arithmetic are considered amazing that gave her chance to form majority government in 2007.

The stage is all set for a seven phase Assembly elections that will begin on January 17 and end on March 15. The counting of votes would be done on March 11.

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