Shivpal’s exit from Samajwadi Party will be good news for Akhilesh and UP
An imminent split in the Samajwadi Party, as announced by Shivpal Yadav on Friday, is good news for his nephew and former chief minister Akhilesh Yadav, for the people, and for the politics in Uttar Pradesh.
Unencumbered by the vestiges of the past, Akhilesh can now embark on transforming the SP from a ‘Yadav-Muslim party’ into a modern political outfit that is in sync with people’s aspirations.
Politics in this Hindi heartland has for long been caste-centric; with the SP perceived to be a party of Yadavs and Muslims, the Bahujan Samaj Party of the Dalits, the Rashtriya Lok Dal of the Jats, and the Congress of a sprinkling of upper castes, Muslims, and backward castes.
That the people were getting weary of such politics was evident from their repudiation of these parties in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, and again in the recent assembly elections. The mandate they gave to the BJP in these elections was for its development plank, although there could be a grain of truth in allegations by the saffron party’s political adversaries that it blended Hindutva with its aspirational politics.
Be as it may, there is no denying the fact that people were loathe with the politics of patronage practiced by the two major regional outfits in the country’s largest state. Akhilesh Yadav seemed to be conscious of this and therefore, sought to change the party’s image by cracking whips on tainted ministers and leaders.
The ensuing battle for survival, launched by his family elders and their lackeys who were averse to any change, undid the then CM’s efforts to convince people about his desire and efforts for an image makeover of the SP.
With Shivpal, and possibly his father Mulayam Singh Yadav — as claimed by his uncle — looking set to walk out of the SP and float a new political outfit, Akhilesh now has his hands free to execute what he had to abandon midway to keep the party together ahead of elections.
The perception that the SP’s core votebank of Yadavs might leave the party along with Mulayam might be misplaced, given the vociferous support his son got from the Yadav youth during poll campaign.
Akhilesh’s revolt against the old guards in the SP also got approval of the people (read non-Yadavs) but they found Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s BJP a safer bet in the elections.
Akhilesh has got time on his side to transform his party’s image. Two years might be a short time to re-build the SP from scratch and emerge as a force to reckon with in the next Lok Sabha elections. But if the young leader gets on with this task right away, he might hope to encash people’s goodwill for him today five years later.
The ruling BJP in UP faces no opposition now as its political rivals are faced with a crisis of credibility. A new SP under Akhilesh Yadav could fill up this vacuum and play a constructive role as an opposition party to ensure that the Adityanath government delivers on its pre-poll promises to people.