A party cornered by its core concerns

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Friends in need? Akhilesh Yadav greets JD(U) chief Sharad Yadav (right) at the Samajwadi Party’s national convention in Lucknow
Friends in need? Akhilesh Yadav greets JD(U) chief Sharad Yadav (right) at the Samajwadi Party’s national convention in Lucknow. Photo: Pramod Singh Adhikari

After squandering almost half its term in power in Uttar Pradesh, the Samajwadi Party has suddenly discovered virtue in corruption-free governance and is promising good conduct by its cadres. But that’s not all. Even in the face of the decline of caste-based politics in the state, the party wants to reaffirm its commitment to be the “true political representative” of the OBCs and the Muslims.

The 30-month rule of the Samajwadi Party under Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav has been marred by all possible markers of bad governance — incompetence, lack of vision, blatant casteism, freebie politics, rank appeasement, communal violence on an unprecedented scale and vandalism by party goons, besides a rising tide of crime against women amid overall deterioration in law and order.

Its arch rival, Mayawati-led Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), retained its right to national status by polling more than 4 percent votes in the General Election earlier this year, despite drawing a blank in terms of seats. Even though the Samajwadi Party failed to meet that criterion, having managed only 3.4 percent votes at the national level, it continues to see itself as a national party.

A three-day national convention of the party began in Lucknow on 8 October, where the leaders hinted at the possible emergence of a broader anti-BJP alliance of the “secular” parties. It seems a political realignment of sorts is on the cards in Uttar Pradesh. This is the signal sent out by the presence of Janata Dal (United) president Sharad Yadav at the convention.

In a comment obviously aimed at the traditional caste-based constituency of the JD(U) and the SP, Sharad Yadav said, “The RSS talks of larger Hindu unity. How can they include the SCs, the STs and OBCs among Hindus? Not a single person from the SCs and the STs is even a joint secretary at the Centre. Only one OBC has managed to become a secretary in a Union ministry after 67 years of Independence.”

Stressing the need for parties such as the SP and the JD(U) to come together, the JD(U) leader said, “In times of crisis, the socialists always close ranks.”

At the national executive meet, Mulayam Singh was seen reverting to his old constituency of OBCs and Muslims. Besides addressing his core constituency, he sought to wean away the youth from the BJP. He also said that the Samajwadi Party is “committed to good governance and development” and promised to clamp down on corrupt ministers in the Akhilesh Yadav government.

“In the Lok Sabha election, the Muslims overwhelmingly supported the Samajwadi Party, followed by the OBCs, the SCs and the STs,” said Mulayam Singh. “People from these communities had ensured the party’s victory in the UP Assembly election in March 2012.”

Issuing a stern warning to the ministers of the Akhilesh Yadav government, the SP chief said, “I have full knowledge of the acts of misconduct by some ministers, who instead of serving the people are indulging in self-aggrandisement.”

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