Question Of The Week In UP: Can SP Recover From Infighting And BSP From Demonetisation?

by Atul Chandra - Dec 29, 2016 05:10 PM +05:30 IST
Question Of The Week In UP: Can SP Recover From Infighting And BSP From Demonetisation?Mayawati and Mulayam Singh 
Snapshot
  • If the SP infighting persists, Mayawati would be the biggest hurdle in the BJP’s path to a possible electoral victory. But can she win her own battles first?

With the family feud in the Samajwadi Party (SP) entering a decisive phase, Mayawati jolted by demonetisation, the Congress left to fend for itself and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) looking to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for deliverance from the currency note crisis, the political scene in Uttar Pradesh (UP) looks fuzzy.

With barely a month to go for the polls in UP, SP’s national president Mulayam Singh Yadav and his brother Shivpal, who is the party’s state unit chief, decided to teach Akhilesh Yadav a lesson. On Monday (26 December), the duo released a list of 325 candidates which did not contain the names of 47 legislators perceived as being loyal to Akhilesh.

Not only that, the names Arvind Singh Gope, Ram Govind Chaudhary and Abhishek Mishra, the three ministers close to the chief minister, and his loyalist Pawan Pande, do not figure in the list released by Mulayam. The father-uncle duo gave Akhilesh a short shrift by ignoring the names included in his list.

With 78 names yet to be decided, the window for rapprochement is still open. But what if Mulayam goes by his brother’s advice and rejects Akhilesh’s plea to accommodate anyone close to him? The chief minister will then have only two options - either fall in line and go by his father’s and uncle’s diktat or wriggle out of their stranglehold with a handful of legislators and face the electorate as a rebel.

These latest developments have left the party in disarray and its very existence at stake. That would sound music to Mayawati’s ears provided she can recover from the blow dealt to her by the illegalising of old currency notes. With the Enforcement Directorate and Income-Tax departments on her trail after a Rs 104 crore deposit in Bahujan Samaj Party’s account, doubts were being expressed in political circles if Mayawati can simultaneously battle law enforcement agencies and her political rivals.

If the SP infighting persists, Mayawati would be the biggest hurdle in the BJP’s path to a possible electoral victory in the state as the Muslims would then flock around her doors. Conversely, this could also lead to polarisation of Hindu votes for the BJP.

The worst hit by Mulayam Singh’s statement that there will be no pre-poll political alliance would be the Congress party, which had been hoping for a Bihar-like grand alliance to save its prestige.

Mulayam does not see any advantage in an alliance with the Congress. The thinking that aborted the alliance was that the SP had a transferable vote bank of Muslims and backwards while the Congress has no such advantage. Any gain of the Congress would have been at the SP’s expense. To make the deal unacceptable, the SP had offered only 60 seats to the Congress against the 125 demanded by the grand old party’s negotiators.

The Congress now has no option but to go it alone, unless it can put up a rickety combination in association with the Rashtriya Lok Dal which would serve hardly any political purpose.

For a clear picture to emerge, the internal issues plaguing the SP must get resolved. That would mean some, not all, of Akhilesh’s men being accommodated in the remaining candidates’ list and the chief minister agreeing to the formula. So far the information filtering out of SP headquarters suggests that only three ministers -Chaudhary, Gope and Pawan Pandey - were being reconsidered.

It is not the political parties alone which facing a difficult, uncertain time, but the voter too is in a flux, as they wait for the fog to clear.

Atul Chandra is former Resident Editor, The Times of India, Lucknow. He has written extensively on politics in Uttar Pradesh.

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