Just about three months away from Assembly elections, UP is seeing developments that could upset the poll equations.
Just about three months away from Assembly elections, UP is seeing developments that could upset the poll equations. Divisions, defections and desertions have hit the two principal contenders — the SP and the BSP. For the ruling SP, the crisis in the party is almost like sunset at high noon.
The feud in SP’s first family has come at a time when it was ready with a makeover to retain power for the second term.
The slugfest that began between Shivpal Yadav and CM Akhilesh Yadav, Shivpal’s nephew, has turned into a generational war in the party. Those eyeing a political career beyond the next five years are supporting the CM and only few loyalists remain with party president Mulayam Singh Yadav and Shivpal.
This family feud has percolated down to the grassroots level, splitting the party into two groups and the division could lead to a realignment of voters’ preferences.
The SP’s votebank, mainly comprising Muslims and Yadavs, looks set to be divided now as the party faces an uncertain future.
The Samajwadis led by Mulayam Singh Yadav may agree to an alliance with JD(U), RJD and RLD but certainly not the Congress whereas if Akhilesh Yadav has his way, the party will go it alone. The chief minister is confident of compensating the possible loss of Muslim votes with his youth following.
On the other hand, the SP infighting promises to offer BSP a golden chance to turn around its fortunes after it was hit by a series of desertions and defections by senior party leaders since June.
The BSP’s main USP in the state has been its ability to control the law and order situation that has gone awry in the Samajwadi regime and Mayawati’s image as a tough administrator has won her admiration cutting across caste lines.
However, allegations of selling tickets for a price have taken considerable sheen off the party’s image and the Daya Shankar episode in which BSP leaders abused the BJP functionary’s minor daughter have distanced the upper castes from Mayawati’s party.
Another problem the BSP is facing is that its mainstay, the dalit vote, had drifted towards the BJP in the 2014 general elections. Morover, Mayawati has failed to groom a second-rung dalit leadership. The BSP election campaign is being run by Satish Chandra Misra, a Brahmin, and Naseemuddin Siddiqui, a Muslim.
“The BSP has survived on dalit votes for more than three decades but, today, it does not have a dalit leader to campaign,” said R.K. Gautam, a dalit writer.
For the BJP, the political horizon seems to have brightened. It is all set to sweep western UP, where a strong polarisation on communal lines is already working to its advantage.
Besides, the party’s campaign has won it the support of most backward castes and non-Yadav OBCs. The rift in the SP will now encourage the BJP to try to divide the Yadav votes too. The upper castes, in the absence of a political option, are also likely to go with it.
What could prove to be a disadvantage for the BJP is that it has not projected a chief ministerial candidate.
The Congress, at the moment, may not seem robust enough to stake its claim to form a government but the intensive campaigning at all levels has started stirring the pot. It is trying to woo Brahmins and dalits, and expecting the Muslims to return to its fold.
If it chooses candidates judiciously, the Congress could well emerge as the kingmaker, if not the king.