Thanks to the SP squabble, non-Yadav OBC votes could go to the BJP
With the SP running as a divided unit or a formally split one the coming elections in Uttar Pradesh is increasingly turning out to be a two-horse race between the BSP and the BJP since the Congress does not appear to be a serious contender yet.analysis Updated: Oct 28, 2016 13:13 IST
There are no winners in the continuing turmoil within the Samajwadi Party (SP). With Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav and his uncle and state party president Shivpal Yadav tearing their own party apart in a month long political soap opera, they are left with little public credibility.
Patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav appears palpably helpless unable to either wholeheartedly support his son and successor over his brother or take over the reins of the government himself. This has only compounded the diminishing image of a key player in the country’s most populous and politically crucial state.
The belated revolt by the beleaguered Akhilesh against the bullying of his father, uncle and sundry SP barons that has plagued his four-and-half-year-old regime comes far too late in the day.
Although his defiance may somewhat mend his image as a bechara pushover chief minister this may not amount to much with assembly polls just a few months away.
He is in the unhappy position of neither being able to establish full control of the party nor taking the risk of breaking away and forming his own political unit.
Although Akhilesh appears to have more support among legislators and party workers he is seriously handicapped by his uncle Shivpal’s technical charge of the party as its state president, which will no doubt also mean control of ticket distribution for the coming polls.
This means that the CM will have to fight tooth and nail for every loyalist he wants to give a ticket to. Moreover despite his planned rathyatras and video campaigns the CM may find it difficult to lead the charge on the electoral battlefield while being humiliated by his own father and harassed by Shivpal and other inveterate enemies like Amar Singh.
On the other hand, Akhilesh is reluctant to form a breakaway faction on the eve of the elections. He knows that this would not only mean fighting political rivals but also his parent party led by its patriarch and at least a section of the Yadav clan.
With the SP running as a divided unit or a formally split one the coming elections in Uttar Pradesh is increasingly turning out to be a two-horse race between the BSP and the BJP since the Congress does not appear to be a serious contender yet.
For BSP supremo Mayawati the implosion within her traditional foe has come as heaven sent. It is the latest in a series of fortuitous events including the Rohith Vemula suicide controversy, insults hurled against her by a BJP Thakur leader and the atrocities against both Dalits and Muslims by cow protection vigilantes.
Even before the cataclysmic turn of events in the SP there were reports of the influx of Muslims to the BSP camp fuelling speculation of a formidable Dalit-Muslim alliance in the elections.
However there were still lingering doubts whether the Muslims will ultimately abandon in large numbers its earlier shelter with the powerful Yadav clan despite the latter being unable to protect the minority community against Hindu fundamentalist groups over the past few years.
Now that the Samajwadi Party seems to be collapsing like a house of cards and with the Congress still to take off the earlier trickle towards the BSP among Muslims who constitute nearly 20% of the electorate may well turn into a flood.
The BJP too is likely to gain from a weakened Samajwadi Party. Even though an overwhelming majority of Yadavs are likely to still stick with either Akhilesh or his patriarch Mulayam despite their unseemly squabble, other non-Yadav OBCs who were earlier attached to them could transfer to the saffron camp which has been wooing them vigorously.
Yet these myriad non-Yadav OBCs are not a monolith and the BJP has traditionally not done too well in a one on one contest with a regional party.
Ajoy Bose is a senior journalist