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Communal shadow over SP puts Akhilesh in fix over Karhal

Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav. File

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

One of the significant takeaways of the Uttar Pradesh Assembly results is the dismal performance of the Samajwadi Party in the Yadav belt and this is one of the reasons that the observers want SP president Akhilesh Yadav to hold on to the Karhal seat to make a point that he is serious about the State politics. However, the party insiders said Mr. Yadav was yet to take a call.

The BJP won 18 of the 29 seats spread over eight districts of Kasganj, Firozabad, Mainpuri, Etawah and Etah, Auraiya, Farrukabad, and Kannauj which have a significant Yadav-Muslim population and were once the bastion of the SP party. The SP won only 10 seats in these districts. One seat was bagged by the BJP ally Apna Dal (Sonelal). The BJP clean-swept three districts: Etah, Farrukabad, and Kannauj.

Observers said if the SP wanted to return to power, it had to sweep these districts and do well in at least the urban constituencies of the Yadav belt.

Even the SP’s allies are pointing out that SP chief Akhilesh Yadav’s decision to contest from Karhal in Mainpuri couldn’t help in improving the performance of the party in the region. In Mainpuri district, the party won only two out of four seats.

“We are not hearing that he will hold on to Karhal but our opinion is that he should,” said a senior Rashtriya Lok Dal leader, indicating that party chief Chaudhary Jayant Singh will be sent to Rajya Sabha by the alliance when elections to the Rajya Sabha seats from U.P. will be held in April/June.

Apart from the national role in the Lok Sabha polls, the confusion is perhaps also emanating from the fact that the party has swept all the 10 assembly constituencies in Azamgarh, the Lok Sabha seat of Mr Yadav. Though Muslims are in fewer numbers in Azamgarh in comparison to most West and Central U.P. seats, holding it will send a message among Muslims, who stood by the party.

SP insiders hold the BSP’s decimation responsible for the loss in the Yadav belt. “The BSP was expected to hold on to its 18-20 % vote bank but it could score only 12 %. The margin of loss has been thin,” reasoned SP spokesperson Abdul Hafiz Gandhi.

A senior office-bearer said the party needs to shed the baggage of the Muslim party and the aggressive image of the Yadavs. “We need to take the social justice politics forward. Still, the answer to Kamandal is Mandal,” he said.

It is hard to achieve as within days of the results, the right-wing social media started highlighting how 35 Muslim MLAs have reached the Assembly on the SP ticket and that Nahid Hasan and Azam Khan, the two targets of BJP’s hate campaign against the SP, are back.

“One of the takeaways of the election has been that the BJP’s politics of hate has diminishing returns and we need to work on it,” said Mr. Gandhi.

With Shivpal Yadav also failing to add anything beyond his own seat, he said, the party needed to produce more OBC leaders. One of the ways, a party insider said, would be to anoint Swami Prasad Maurya as the State party head. Both Keshav Prasad Maurya and Swami Prasad Maurya — the Maurya faces of BJP and SP — lost their seats. Mahan Dal chief Keshav Dev Maurya’s son Chandra Prasad lost from the Bilsi seat. Local SP leaders said the Mahan Dal could not add as much to the SP tally as was hyped by its leadership. “Perhaps, they started sulking after Swami Prasad Maurya switched sides,” said an SP leader from Budaun, adding the current State head Naresh Uttam Patel has not been able to deliver the Kurmi votes.

Going forward, if Mr. Maurya, who is hard to retain without a substantial post in the party structure, is put in command, party sources said, it would help galvanise the scattered Mauryas, who constitute 5-6 % of the State’s population, behind the SP. “It will add a significant OBC caste into the SP kitty. For instance, if Sanghamitra Maurya (daughter of Mr Maurya) contests from Etah Lok Sabha seat, she will start with six lakh votes,” said a party source, adding the Muslim, Yadav, and Maurya votes in the constituency.

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Printable version | May 26, 2022 6:01:48 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/communal-shadow-over-sp-puts-akhilesh-in-fix-over-karhal/article65245963.ece