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Shivpal’s PSP-L: Aiming for the moon or settling political scores?

Undeterred by the fact that the outfit is just three-month old and does not have a strong cadre, the PSP-L has thrown its hat into the ring not only in Uttar Pradesh but also in 11 other states across the country.

lok sabha elections Updated: Apr 10, 2019 10:18 IST
M Tariq Khan
M Tariq Khan
Hindustan Times, Lucknow
shivpal singh,psp l,pspl lok sabha elections

Elections without political diversity lack colour. In short, the maxim of the more, the merrier applies aptly to this ‘festival of democracy.’

While major political players slug it out to wrest power, smaller ones join the fray to espouse a cause, be it fulfilling personal ambition or even settling scores with a rival.

And nothing illustrates this gung-ho approach of a political outfit better than the Pragatisheel Samajwadi Party-Lohia (PSP-L) floated by Samajwadi Party rebel Shivpal Singh Yadav.

Undeterred by the fact that the outfit is just three-month old and does not have a strong cadre, the PSP-L has thrown its hat into the ring not only in Uttar Pradesh but also in 11 other states across the country.

Shivpal, who heads the PSP-L, is being termed as a ‘vote katua’ (vote cutter) by the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party which accuse him of helping the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) by hurting the SP-BSP-RLD alliance in UP.

Shivpal, however, denies the charge.

“Our party is a grass roots organisation that has its own following. It is the Samajwadi Party that has compromised with its ideology and has become subservient to the BSP. As for giving the BJP an edge, I can tell you that people will vote for the party that gives a tough challenge to the BJP,” he said.

Once the most powerful leader in the SP after Mulayam Singh Yadav, Shivpal quit the party after differences with his nephew and former UP CM Akhilesh Yadav.

After parting ways, Shivpal formed a political front, Samajwadi Secular Morcha, and later on August 29, 2018, he floated the PSP-L.

On January 14 this year, the Election Commission allotted ‘key’ as the party symbol to PSP-L.

The fledgling outfit has decided not to field a candidate from Mainpuri where his brother and SP founder Mulayam Singh Yadav is in the fray.

Earlier, Shivpal had fielded Sunil Rathore in Kannauj against Akhilesh’s wife Dimple Yadav but withdrawing from the fray, Rathore did not file his nomination papers.

PSP-L is planning to contest on all the remaining 78 Lok Sabha seats in UP.

This makes it the biggest outfit contesting on the maximum number of parliamentary seats.

While the SP-BSP alliance will together fight on 38 and 37 seats respectively, leaving out three for RLD and two for Congress, the BJP has also conceded two seats to Apna Dal (Anupriya Patel faction). So far, the Congress has declared candidates on 50 seats.

LEFT HIGH AND DRY

After failing to tie up with the Congress for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, Shivpal decided to join hands with little-known regional outfits to form his own political front, the Progressive Democratic Alliance. He has roped in the Peace Party and Apna Dal faction led by Krishna Patel.

Even Mulayam has distanced himself from Shivpal.

Asked if he would campaign for Shivpal in Firozabad, Mulayam said: “Why should I worry who goes to his rally and who doesn’t? Why should I bother? I am contesting elections myself and there is a lot of work to do for that.”

Political observers feel that the division of non-BJP votes due to the presence of too many local outfits would only work to the BJP’s advantage no matter what these parties may say.

“It is unfortunate that secular forces seem determined to defeat the BJP but cannot resolve their differences when it comes to seat-sharing,” said Prof Ramesh Dixit, a retired political scientist and currently the state chief of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP).

“Personal aspirations seem to have taken priority over national and other important interests and challenges before the country,” he added.

THE AGENDA

So what makes the PSP-L, a one-man party, tick? What does it stand for?

Shivpal was known as the SP’s organisational man under Mulayam. He was in touch with the SP’s cadre all over UP.

He now seems to be relying on his outreach to this cadre, and of course, the disgruntled elements not only in SP but outcast and leaders denied tickets by other political parties to queer the pitch for arch-rivals.

PSP-L spokesman Deepak Mishra said, “Our aim is to stop the BJP from coming to power in the upcoming polls because both the central and state governments have sidelined the youth, farmers and minority communities.”

“We are espousing the cause of Dr Ram Manohar Lohia and Jayaprakash Narayan, the two socialist stalwarts, whose followers are spread all over the country,” he said, adding that it was also the reason for contesting in other states.

Mishra said his party was still receiving applications from aspirants who wanted to contest on its ticket as they were ardent supporters of Lohia and believed in his legacy.

Though not a recognised state-level party as yet, PSP-L, according to its supporters, has certainly set its aim high.

“We hold the ‘key’ to government formation, you wait and watch,” said Farhat, an office-bearer.

Experts, however, say that getting the national or state-level tag from the EC did not come easy.

“There are only seven nationally recognised parties so far, with the TMC being the latest, and 59 state-level recognised parties,” said an official at the UP state election commission.

“A political party becomes eligible to be recognised as a national party if it wins 2 per cent of seats in Lok Sabha from at least three different states in the latest general election; or in a Lok Sabha or Assembly election it has polled 6 per cent of the total valid votes in at least four states, in addition to winning four Lok Sabha seats; or it has been recognised as a state party in at least four states,” he added.

AIMING HIGH

The PSP-L has announced candidates on 95 parliamentary constituencies in 12 states across the country

UP – 64

Madhya Pradesh - 8

Odisha – 6

Karnataka – 5

Bihar – 3

Delhi – 2

Tamil Nadu – 2

Haryana – 1

Uttarakhand – 1

Jammu & Kashmir – 1

Maharashtra – 1

Chhattisgarh – 1

First Published: Apr 10, 2019 09:28 IST

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