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HomeOpinionAkhilesh Yadav, Uttar Pradesh’s lonely prince, is paying for his audacity

Akhilesh Yadav, Uttar Pradesh’s lonely prince, is paying for his audacity

Akhilesh Yadav’s uncle Shivpal and father Mulayam Singh might be telling him – We told you so!

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Samajwadi Party veteran Mulayam Singh Yadav perhaps saw it coming. He had fumed when his son and Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav and BSP supremo Mayawati sealed a seat-sharing arrangement, with the BSP as the senior partner, ahead of the Lok Sabha elections in Uttar Pradesh. He lamented that Akhilesh is destroying a party, which he had arduously built.

Now, as the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) decides to go it alone in the by-elections, it must be déjà vu for Mulayam Singh – remembering the incidents of 1995, when Mayawati despite being an alliance partner staked claim to form her own government and submitted a letter of support from the BJP to then UP governor Motilal Vora. The infuriated Samajwadi Party (SP) supporters had vandalised the guest house where Mayawati was meeting her supporters. The BSP finally formed the government with the support of the BJP MLAs and Mayawati became the chief minister for the first time.

That’s how the ‘Mile Mulayam Kanshiram, hawa mein udd gaye Jai Sri Ram’ (when Mulayam and Kanshiram join hands, there’s little Jai Sri Ram can do) experiment failed in UP. A few months later, the BJP withdrew support and the BSP government collapsed. At that time, BJP leader Atal Bihari Vajpayee famously said – “Kaante se kaanta nikala, aur phir donon kaante phenk diye” (we used one of them to demolish the other and then dumped them both).

Also read: Akhilesh Yadav is a loser even before the 2019 elections have begun

Now, Akhilesh must be wondering if Mulayam Singh indeed had better political instincts all along. In hindsight, it’s difficult to understand why at all did Akhilesh agree to such an audacious experiment and a seat-sharing agreement. The Samajwadi Party was in all respect a bigger force in UP. In the 2017 assembly elections, it contested on 298 seats and got 21.8 per cent of the total votes and 47 seats. In comparison, the BSP contested on all 403 seats and managed to get 22.2 per cent of the total votes polled and just 19 seats.

Even during the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the SP performed better than the BSP and five of its candidates won. The tally later went up to seven after the SP candidates won the bypolls in Phulpur and Gorakhpur. The BSP tally was zero in 16th Lok Sabha.

Despite mathematics being in the SP’s favour, Akhilesh Yadav settled for 37 Lok Sabha seats, one less than the BSP. These seats included constituencies like Varanasi, Lucknow, Bareilly, Pilibhit, Allahabad, Noida, Kanpur and Ghaziabad. All of them have been BJP strongholds even when the SP and the BSP were in power in the state.

It was a Faustian bargain that Akhilesh Yadav struck with Mayawati – he would support BSP chief for the position of the Prime Minister and in return, Mayawati would back him for the chief minister’s post.

Also read: Kanshi Ram ran BSP military-style. The problem is Mayawati runs it like a bureaucracy

And, Akhilesh Yadav did everything to ensure the alliance succeeds. His wife and then MP from Kannauj Dimple Yadav touched Mayawati’s feet and took her blessings during a public meeting; the picture has since gone viral. It symbolised a politically forged unity between Dalits and OBCs. The picture of a woman born in a Thakur family and married to a Yadav seeking blessings from a Dalit leader should be preserved for posterity.

But all that is history now. The SP-BSP alliance is over. At least, for now.

The reasons cited by Mayawati to go it alone in the bypolls are superfluous. At her press conference, she said Akhilesh Yadav failed in securing the Yadav votebank and it hurt the BSP’s poll prospects too. She said even strong contenders like Dimple Yadav and Dharmendra Yadav could not win their seats, and advised the SP to strengthen its party organisation. Mayawati reduced the SP to a Yadav party and denied it the image of a coalition of different social forces.

The question is: Why did the BSP perform better than the SP in the Lok Sabha elections and how did it improve its tally from zero to 10 in just five years?

The alliance enabled the BSP to get Muslim votes, who had deserted the party after Mayawati campaigned for the BJP and shared stage with Narendra Modi during 2002 Gujarat election campaign. The BSP also managed to get Yadav votes, which explains its wins in Yadav-dominated eastern UP seats.

We cannot conclude that Dimple Yadav and Dharmendra Yadav lost the elections from Kannauj and Badaun because Yadavs did not vote for them. Maybe the BJP formed a bigger social coalition, or maybe there was a Modi wave.

The answer to why Mayawati dumped the SP will unfold over time.

Also read: With gathbandhan politics in turmoil, is the ‘vote transfer’ theory a myth?

At this moment, Akhilesh Yadav seems to be the loser in the bua-bhatija game. He is alone. Both his uncle Shivpal Yadav and father Mulayam Singh might be telling him – We told you so! As Lok Sabha MP, he will now have to spend time in Delhi besides Lucknow – dividing it between family, Parliament and strengthening the party.

Next assembly election in UP is due only in 2022. But he has to prove that the SP is ‘the’ opposition party in UP, something that the BSP will also try to claim.

We don’t know if his training at the Dholpur Sainik School will be of any help in the toughest battle of his life. We don’t know if anyone is shedding a tear for him. The most important thing is that he is all alone in this battle. Rejected, dejected and betrayed.

The author is a senior journalist. Views are personal.

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  1. Since I live in U.P. I can say with certitude that Akhilesh did a good job as Chief Minister, especially in his last two years after he had emerged out of the shadows of his father and uncles. He did wonders with the Lucknow Metro, the Lucknow Agra Expressway, the Gomti Riverfront, vastly improved electricity supply etc. He deserved better from an ungrateful populace.
    Sometimes one wonders if one ever gets rewarded for good work!! Sad indeed.

    • Akhilesh did a good job as Chief Minister,

      That is your opinion. People of UP did not agree with your assessment in 2017 or 2019.

  2. Very sympathetic article. But let us be clear that there is nothing like ‘audacity’ in Akhilesh. It is the cluelessness of a dynast prince who was given a substantive kingdom but who squandered it away. A CM who removed the Chief Secretary to settle the score with his powerful uncle – and reappointed him back after reconciling with uncle, has absolutely no understanding what it is to govern. A sudden surge in the success of people of a particular caste in the competitive examinations of state was not accidental. This and the huge copying and cheating business his father founded and he blessed, has destroyed the state for at least next 35 years.
    He just wanted a boat to sail through and unfortunately that boat too was found leaking. That is all.

  3. Mayawati chewed up Akhilesh for snack and made a pellet out of him. He should have trusted his father’s instinct about Mayawati.

  4. Akhikesh Yadav is nothing but Next Ajit Singh in the making in the process of destroying his party slowly and steadily. The arm chair journalist who are puppet in the hand of private limited party like RJD are unable to see this coming and trying to make a hero out of him.

  5. How many obituaries of Thagbandhan we the common people will read….. Enough is enough….. Both these people (Bua and Bhatija) are not considered as towering figures in the country or for that matter that they have made UP a successful state under their leadership…. Then why media is wasting time on petty political issues….

  6. I think he is a good man. Towards the close of his tenure as CM, came into his own, placed development centre stage, fought tenaciously to gain control of his party from an increasingly senile father and selfish uncle. How would the SP and the BSP have been better off if this alliance had not taken place ? Mayawati would certainly not have won ten seats. Time is on his side. If there are a few tears to be shed, these should be for Behenji. Had she followed the principles and discipline of her mentor, she could have grown to be the tall pan Indian Dalit leader the country needs. My wife was asking me last night, What has this woman done for her people …

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