He overcame a bruising family feud to gain control of the party and then pushed for an alliance with the Congress.
But as trends and results for the Uttar Pradesh assembly election indicated a drubbing for chief minister Akhilesh Yadav, the Samajwadi Party leader faces a slew of challenges going forward.
Here is a list of what lies ahead of him:
1.Akhilesh had promised victory as a gift to his father and SP founder Mulayam Singh Yadav. It was to assuage the patriarch after a family feud that led to senior party leaders such as Shivpal Yadav and Amar Singh being sidelined or ousted. Akhilesh has to get over criticism within the family and the party that he now commands.
2.He will have to take sole responsibility for the defeat of the party in view of the family feud and the alliance with the Congress.
3.He is set to begin a new innings as leader of Opposition in the UP assembly.
4.Akhilesh, likely to continue as SP national president, will be looking to consolidate the party for future polls.
5.He may face rebellion within the party as several members still believe in Mulayam and sympathise with Shivpal Yadav.
6.The family feud might haunt the SP again, with Shivpal already having threatened to float a new party. There is also the possibility of Mulayam becoming the Lok Dal president to increase the embarrassment for Akhilesh.
7.Congress might not go a long way with Akhilesh’s SP after the defeat.
8.The results indicate his development agenda did not work while the SP’s traditional vote bank – Yadav and Muslim – got fragmented. Regaining this vote base will be a tough call for Akhilesh.
9.He will have to purge the party of corrupt and criminal elements. He did not stick to his pre-poll posturing and retained the candidature of rape-accused minister Gayatri Prasad Prajapati.
10.He might lose independent allies such as Raja Bhaiya.