Samajwadi Party patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav’s absence from most of the poll campaign and shifting loyalties of some of his long time followers because of the Yadav family feud were some of the reasons that spelt doom for party and outgoing chief minister Akhilesh Yadav in their stronghold in eastern UP.
The SP had won 41 seats out 61 in 10 districts of eastern UP in 2012. This time, it shrank to just 12, as the lotus bloomed on 41 seats. BSP won seven constituencies.
Since its inception, the SP had received good support from eastern UP. The Yadav community in particular has high regard for Mulayam as someone whose party strengthened their socio-economic condition across the state.
However, this time, elderly Yadavs were unhappy over Mulayam’s removal from the post of SP national president. Many of them either maintained a distance from the party’s election campaign or decided to vote against it.
Bhola Yadav in his early seventies, a diehard fan of the SP patriarch, told HT, “Samajwadi Party’s defeat has disappointed us but the moment netaji was removed from the post of national president, defeat was certain. Akhilesh shouldn’t have removed Netaji the way he did.”
He added, “He (Mulayam Singh) was not even informed. He came to know about his removal through media reports. This was insult for a man who had earned the respect of the Yadav community across the state.”
Kaushal Kishore Mishra, professor of political science at BHU, said, “Most of the elderly Yadavs took MSY’s removal from the national president post as an insult to their leader. Some voted against SP while some preferred not to vote. If Mulayam Singh had campaigned in the region, it would have given some relief to SP. Also, the alliance between SP and Congress was not natural. As a result, people rejected it. The new SP president should take a lesson from this defeat.”
Notably, Mulayam Singh didn’t campaign in eastern UP. He addressed a mega rally in Ghazipur on November 23. His long time loyalists such as Ambika Chaudhary and Narad Rai of Ballia shifted loyalty to BSP. Shadab Fatima, another MSY loyalist, was also ignored. Political pundits say all this had an impact on SP’s performance in the region.
For instance, in Ballia, where SP had won five seats out of seven in 2012, bagged only one seat this time just like the BSP while the BJP won five. In Ghazipur, the SP had won six seats out of seven in 2012 but this time, BJP won five and SP and BSP got only one seat each. In Bhadohi, Samajwadi Party could not even open its account. BJP got two seats here, while Vijay Mishra (of Nirbal Indian Shoshit Hamara Aam Dal) bagged one. In 2012, Mishra was in SP.
Azamgarh, Ghazipur, Sonbhadra, Jaunpur, Chandauli, Mirzapur, Bhadohi and Mau are considered to be traditional SP strongholds.