The state of the Samajwadi Party (SP) in Uttar Pradesh is similar to a man on a journey to nowhere.
Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav’s foes are getting increasingly offensive, while his friends are also snapping at him.
His own party leaders are slamming his policies and his family is no less upset with him.
The biggest challenge for Akhilesh in the coming months would be to keep his party and family together.
Akhilesh was apparently over confident of his victory in the recent Assembly elections, but the results proved otherwise.
For him, one journey has ended and another has just begun — this one tougher than the previous one.
Five years is a long time and not many of the newly-elected legislators would be in a mood to struggle against the establishment for this period.
Moreover, Akhilesh has been losing every election since he took over the reins of the party. He lost the 2017 Assembly polls, 2019 Lok Sabha polls and now the 2022 Assembly polls. And, party leaders and workers stay loyal only to those who can get them votes.
Voices of dissent have already started getting louder. The Muslim leaders in the party have been speaking out against the party’s failure to fight for Mohd Azam Khan, who spent 27 months in jail after being booked in 89 cases.
Ticket distribution in the Assembly polls, then the Rajya Sabha and Vidhan Parishad elections, has also made the critics rather vocal.
Besides keeping the legislature party intact, Akhilesh will now have to work overtime to prevent an exodus from his party — the kind that he had encouraged from other parties before the elections.
The Samajwadi Party is already brimming over with turncoats and there is no guarantee that such elements will not turn away again.
These turncoats, interestingly, are a major reason for SP’s below expectation performance.
Akhilesh chose the outsiders’ over his loyal partymen when it came to ticket distribution and this led to his cadres receding into their shells.
The defeats of Swami Prasad Maurya and Dharam Singh Saini, both of whom came from the BJP, are an example.
The Vidhan Parishad ticket to Swami Prasad Maurya has added insult to the injury.
Akhilesh has already managed to irk the upper caste voters, particularly the Thakurs.
In the midst of elections, Akhilesh damaged himself to a large extent when he said in Pratapgarh — “Raja Bhaiyya Kaun (Who’s Raja Bhaiya?).”
Raja Bhaiyya, in at least six districts of the Avadh region, is an icon for the Thakur community.
Akhilesh’s uncalled for remark made sure that Thakurs did not vote and support the Samajwadi Party, leading to the defeat of SP’s own Thakur leaders such as Arvind Singh Gope.
Raja Bhaiyya, incidentally, had helped Mulayam Singh cobble up a majority for his government in 2003 and has served as minister in Mulayam and Akhilesh governments.
Akhilesh also targeted Dhananjay Singh, another well-known Thakur leader, who was contesting from Malhani in Jaunpur.
This has added to the Thakur angst against SP and Akhilesh is doing nothing to make amends.
Within the family too, Akhilesh has managed to ruffle many feathers. Sister-in-law Aparna Yadav joined the BJP before the Assembly elections. Uncle Shivpal Yadav makes no bones about his displeasure with Akhilesh.
Other relatives are now talking in hushed tones about Akhilesh becoming arrogant’.
His refusal to campaign for cousin Dharmendra Yadav in Azamgarh, which led to his defeat, is also a major issue in the family.
Post elections, the allies of the Samajwadi-led alliance are getting increasingly restive.
This was only expected since failure has few friends, while success has many.
Mahan Dal President Keshav Dev Maurya has already snapped his ties with the SP. He blamed Akhilesh’s arrogance as a major reason.
Janwadi Party chief Sanjay Chauhan has also spoken of the SP chief’s inaccessibility and arrogance.
Suheldev Bhartiya Samaj Party (SBSP) leader Om Prakash Rajbhar — once a biggest supporter of Akhilesh — is now claiming that the SP chief will have to give up his air-conditioned drawing room politics’.
The allies apparently are in no mood to continue their alliance with SP and are only waiting for better opportunities to come their way.
The only ally which has not spoken a word against Akhilesh and his party is the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD). The RLD is treading with extreme caution.
RLD chief Jayant Chaudhary, sources say, will not snap ties with SP unless he finds a better and more reliable ally.
As a political analyst said, “The RLD knows that an alliance with the BJP will not work for him. Farmers are still upset with the BJP and the Angipath controversy has irked the youth. Jayant is holding Yuva Panchayat and he can sense the mood of his voters. He is playing his cards well and trying to strengthen his own party at the grassroots level till the next elections.”
The RLD has appointed Ramashish Rai as its state President. Rai, a former BJP leader, belongs to eastern UP and the party plans to expand its base to this region before the next general elections.
Interestingly, Jayant Chaudhary does not believe in criticising his rivals, and this keeps him in the good books of the BJP and other parties.
“He believes in old school politics where even foes were friends. He has not abandoned the veterans in his party and encourages the youth at the same time,” said a senior party leader.