Why Akhilesh Yadav’s Noisy Campaign Failed To Woo Voters In Uttar Pradesh
All the journalists who were providing 'cover fire' to Akhilesh Yadav did a great disservice to him by keeping him away from reality.
By 12 noon on counting day, it was clear that Akhilesh Yadav’s noisy campaign to be the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh had been undone by Yogi Adityanath’s quiet but effective governance.
The famous ‘Aa Rahein Hain Akhilesh’ (Akhilesh Yadav is Coming) slogan did not translate to reality. Many five star 'Lutyens journalists' had predicted the election in favour of Akhilesh Yadav based on the readings on their Khan market-grown ‘enthusiasm meter’ for the crowds that visited the election rallies.
Today, they are searching for an alibi to justify their lazy and wrong predictions.
Here, let’s analyse why Akhilesh’s noisy campaign failed to bring him and the Samajwadi Party back to power.
During my extensive travel to the hinterlands of Uttar Pradesh, in the last 18 months, I have found passionate pro-Modi and pro-Yogi voices from the ground, owing to the efficient delivery of the government schemes, like building of houses, toilets, free gas stoves, ration and direct benefit transfers for different schemes.
Robust law and order under Yogi administration topped it all. And all of this was happening while Akhilesh Yadav was holidaying in his palatial bungalow in Lucknow or somewhere abroad.
His attendance in the current 17th Loksabha is a dismal 33 per cent against an Uttar Pradesh average of 84 per cent. Data suggests that neither did he visit the parliament, nor his parliamentary constituency (Azamgarh).
Even when the entire opposition was trying to play up the Hathras incident politically, Akhilesh Yadav was holidaying in London. During the Covid crisis, when Yogi Adityanath was visiting every district, Yadav chose to create vaccine hesitancy against indigenous Covid vaccines on Twitter and through press conferences.
It was only in the last three months that Yadav appeared to wake up. His campaign team must have realised that they can’t muzzle down the voices of crores of beneficiaries from the ground. So they decided to create a louder noise in the media to counter the people’s voices by signalling to the Muslim and Yadav communities and to the undecided voters that SP was set to return in the 2022 election.
Through ‘Aa Rahein Hain Akhilesh’ (Akhilesh Yadav is coming) slogan, Yadav also gave hope to his party workers that the ‘good times of the rule of Yadav clan’ will be back soon; where the government would vouch for criminals and their release from jail, where the police force would dance to the tunes of its political bosses, where your surname and not merit would land you a job.
This dream added that extra ‘josh’ and enthusiasm in the unruly cadre of the Samajwadi Party and the noise they made at their rallies prompted many Lutyens journalists to write Yogi Adityanath off.
But looks like, at some point, Akhilesh Yadav fell prey to his own propaganda, a propaganda that was fuelled by the cover fire of many exaggerated media narratives.
On the ground, farmers of Uttar Pradesh were happy with the Yogi government for its unprecedented purchase of wheat and rice on MSP, for the timely sugarcane payments and for the PM-Kisan direct benefit transfers; all this while, Yadav appeared to live in a bubble where the reality included farmer discontent against BJP due to ‘farmers protest’, ‘Jaat anger against BJP’ and ‘Lakhimpur Kheri’.
People of Uttar Pradesh were elated with the improved law and order situation in the state, but in Yadav's bubble, the narrative around Hathras and Unnao seemed to dominate.
On ground, people were content with the government’s Corona management—national and global agencies too praised Yogi government for its Covid management—but in Yadav's bubble, twisted stories around ‘floating dead bodies’ appeared to be making headlines.
Hindus all over the globe rejoiced at the bhoomi pujan ceremony at the Ram Janmabhoomi Temple in Ayodhya, but in Yadav's bubble, it was the fake land scam conspiracy theory that dominated. A theory which the SP tried to play up along with Aam Aadmi Party.
When Akhilesh got three ministers of Yogi’s cabinet to quit the BJP and join his party, certain sections of the media went berserk and called it the ultimate master stroke by Akhilesh Yadav to expand his party's non-Yadav OBC base. Two of these turncoat ministers, Swami Prasad Maurya and Dharm Singh Saini, lost their own elections, let alone positively effecting other seats for the Samajwadi Party.
In fact, all these journalists who were providing cover fire to Akhilesh Yadav did great disservice to him, by keeping him away from reality. He became a victim of their false propaganda and the counting day shattered his lazy dream of 400 seats.
Yadav has lost six consecutive elections in UP now – 2014 Lok Sabha Elections, 2015 Urban Body Elections, 2017 Assembly Elections, 2019 Lok Sabha Elections, 2021 Zila Panchayat Elections and now the 2022 assembly elections.
In spite of all these, Yadav got 32 per cent vote share in the 2022 assembly elections, which is the best vote share for Samajwadi party ever, owing much to the consolidated minority votes. This seems to be the ceiling for Akhilesh’s party, until and unless he starts going to his constituency in non-election times, attending parliament sincerely and raising people’s issues to become a full-time politician.
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