The running feud within the Samajwadi Party’s ruling Yadav family is likely to have a direct impact not just on the party’s prospects in the upcoming Uttar Pradesh assembly polls but also on all other players in the fray.
A split in the SP could result in the Muslim-Yadav vote bank, which the party calls its own, getting fragmented and gravitating towards other parties, experts said. The Bahujan Samaj Party and the Bharatiya Janata Party could emerge as the bigger gainers from the SP’s troubles, they added.
UP’s polity has been bipolar for nearly two decades now with the SP or BSP and their allies forming the government in India’s most populous and politically most significant state.
Badri Narayan of Jawaharlal Nehru University told Hindustan TimesMuslim voters could gravitate towards the BSP if they see the SP splitting and hurting itself to the point of not being able to keep the BJP at bay. With the BJP having emerged as a strong contender in this election, it could lead to Muslim votes getting polarised.
“The Yadav votes are expected to get fragmented between the two SP factions and non-Yadav OBCs could drift towards the BJP. Many Yadavs are Brahminised nowadays, they could align with the BJP,” he added.
The BJP, which has been working on the arithmetic of combining an upper caste consolidation based on the Hindutva vote with those of the aspiring classes, managed a counter-polarisation in the 2014 general election and made big gains.
With the Apna Dal, it bagged 73 of the 80 Lok Sabha seats in the state. A similar feat could put it in the top slot in 2017, experts contended.
Akhilesh Yadav as the chief minister is a popular choice among urban voters, especially women. The first-time CM could circumvent the anti-incumbency against his own government because of his clean image. A split in the party could benefit him.
The significant victory of the Grand Alliance in Bihar in November 2015 over the BJP and its allies also opens the possibility of a similar front being forged in UP.
If that happens, the Congress could emerge from the margins to spearhead the coming together of a breakaway SP faction and Ajit Singh’s Rashtriya Lok Dal in Western UP with the backing of RJD’s Lalu Prasad Yadav and Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar-led JD(U).