BY ANNOUNCING that he would campaign for the ruling Samajwadi Party in the State Assembly elections, former Defence Minister George Fernandes may have intended to help his old Lohiate friend in politics.
However, his statement may make the position of Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav a bit difficult, as he would have to do a lot of explaining about Fernandes continuing relations with the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance. It would be difficult without Fernandes bidding goodbye to the National Democratic Alliance.
Fernandes has been in touch with the chief minister during the last few months to chalk out an action plan for the UP elections, which are vital for the Samajwadi Party. Extremely unhappy with Janata Dal (U) president Sharad Yadav and Bihar Chief Minister Nitesh Kumar, he has decided to align with the Samajwadi Party in UP.
It is despite the fact that the JD (U) has hardly any base in the state. It has been trying to ride piggyback on the Apna Dal of Sone Lal Patel.
While in last Lok Sabha election in 2004 the JD (U) could not get even one per cent vote, the Apna Dal finished with 1.36 per cent vote. However, in state assembly elections in 2002 the JD (U) won two seats and the Apna Dal, which had fielded 227 candidates, could win just three seats and their percentage was 0.59 and 2.17 respectively. The poll data of last two elections thus amply sumps up the strength of the two parties. Knowing full well the ground realities Fernandes has now decided to jump on the Samajwadi Party’s bandwagon in the state.
There is a feeling in the SP that he would be able to give more thrust to the anti-Congress campaign during the election. But looking at his past record as the NDA convenor in which he actively the played role of a fire fighter to sort out any differences between the RSS and the Bharatiya Janata Party, a section in the Samajwadi Party is sceptical about his campaigning.
“It would have an adverse impact and may further lead to disenchantment in the minority community”, commented a senior SP leader on the condition of anonymity. He said the party would have to be on guard on the issue.
Fernandes is yet to snap his ties with the National Democratic Alliance. Even he said in Delhi on Friday that there was no contradiction in his stand regarding support to the SP as the NDA was a “platform of political parties”.
The Congress today joined the issue by targeting the Samajwadi Party. Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee chief spokesman Akhilesh Pratap Singh said the Samajwadi Party and the Bharatiya Janata Party had been hobnobbing in the state. He said Fernandes would prove an effective link between the two parties.