Akhilesh Yadav faces tough choice between Assembly and Lok Sabha

Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav. File

Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav. File | Photo Credit: PTI

The debacle in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly election has put Samajwadi Party (SP) president Akhilesh Yadav in an uncomfortable position. With Lok Sabha elections two years away, he is staring at a tough choice between continuing as a legislator from Karhal that he recently won or continuing as a parliamentarian, representing Azamgarh seat in the Lok Sabha.

As per the Constitution, no person can be a member of two Houses at the same time. Mr. Yadav, has to resign from one of the posts by March 25. "We have not decided on the issue so far. We will be having the first meeting of the legislative party on March 21 . A decision of this significance can only be taken after consulting the other legislators," party's chief spokesperson Rajender Chaudhary told The Hindu.

Sources, however, indicate that Mr. Yadav has made up his mind to remain in Delhi and hand over the seat and the position of Leader of Opposition to another leader.

As per speculations, he could ask former Cabinet Minister Swami Prasad Maurya, who quit the BJP to join the SP on the eve of the elections, to contest from Karhal in his place. Mr. Maurya, who fought from Fazilnagar, lost the election by 45,000 votes. In the recent elections, despite all his efforts, the SP could not bring in additional vote bloc to their existing Muslim-Yadav votes. This would be a last-ditch attempt to coalesce the OBC votes before Lok Sabha election.

The charge

At the same time, for Mr. Yadav, who is already facing the charge of being absent for four and a half years, to leave the U.P. position could be bad optics. In September 2020, while the country expressed outrage over the alleged gang-rape and murder of 20-year-old Dalit victim in Hathras, Mr. Yadav was away in London on a family commitment.

Observers recount many such incidents of him leaving the post unattended. During the COVID-19 pandemic, while he was active on social media, he was not visibly present on the ground. This is the fourth consecutive defeat with Mr. Yadav in the lead position (2014 and 2019 Lok Sabha polls and 2017 Assembly election).

‘A BJP propaganda’

SP leaders, however, dispute this narrative. "This is a BJP propaganda to claim that Akhilesh Yadav was missing and appeared only in time for the Assembly elections. The fact is that the SP got the highest amount of vote-share since its formation," Udaiveer Singh, Legislative Council member and a key confidante of Mr. Yadav, said.

The party argued that the position of Leader of Opposition allowed for very little room for work since the Assembly rarely met and the Opposition got limited opportunity to speak.

Political scientist with the Centre for Policy Research Rahul Verma said the next elections were not far away and to step away from U.P. at this point might not be a good move. “Ïf the SP has to stay relevant, it has to concentrate on the State, which can be done only if Mr. Yadav remains in Lucknow, leading the pack from the front. His decision to leave the Karhal seat could demoralise the cadre and provide the BJP with further ammunition to attack him,” he noted.

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Printable version | May 26, 2022 5:11:50 pm |