By Ashima Makhija
In the assembly elections of Uttar Pradesh in early 2017, the incumbent Samajwadi Party (SP) suffered a devastating and deafening defeat against the BJP. Now as the nation prepares for a mega electoral war in 2019, SP’s chief Akhilesh Yadav has decided to focus on comprehensively expanding his party’s support base, instead of getting tangled in seat arrangements and electoral compromises. In an exclusive interview with the Press Trust of India on Tuesday, the former UP CM claimed that the process of talks and seat negotiations was a waste of time and that he was not thinking of an alliance ahead of the “crucial” 2019 general elections.
Why is Akhilesh shying from an alliance?
A significant reason for Yadav to keep away from alliances now may be the crushing defeat of the Congress-SP alliance in 2017. The partnership between these two parties famously pitched the Akhilesh Yadav-Rahul Gandhi combo as “UP Ke Ladke (The young men of UP)” and was decimated in the state election. The ruling Samajwadi Party was reduced to 47 seats and the Congress won just seven seats in the 403-member assembly. On the other hand, the BJP with Yogi Adityanath scored 325 seats.
The decision was taken after he held a crucial meeting with heads of the districts, along with candidates who lost their elections. According to sources, a large section of the party agreed with his father, Mulayam Singh Yadav who believes that the party did not get any benefit politically from its alliance with the Congress, and hence, should go solo for the 2019 polls.
Akhilesh wants to strengthen his party’s position in each constituency. Instead of rushing into an alliance, the party has decided to formulate electoral and political equations in every constituency and carefully choose candidates for each seat. Further, the party has decided to contest the 2019 polls only in regions where the party has a strong organisational structure and immense political presence. “We have a strong organisational base in Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh. We are also working in Uttarakhand and Rajasthan,” he said.
The SP has decided to battle BJP with its own strategy. To mobilise public support and party workers, Yadav plans to take out a Rath Yatra. Although the route and plan are still being chalked out, it is certain that he will be hitting the road again. He believes that people have a lot of expectations from SP since it is the only party which can stop the BJP. But the SP hasn’t altogether slammed shut the possibility of an alliance or a coalition. Suggesting that the party could bargain at a later stage if an alliance materialises, he said his style of politics is different and he is open to “friendships” with like-minded parties.
Does the former UP CM still hold his charisma?
Yadav feels that despite his party’s grand failure, the people in UP are now realising the consequences of their electoral blunder. “The Yogi Adityanath government has failed… They are just carrying forward our work by putting their plaques,” he alleged. He contended that the BJP hasn’t fulfilled any of its tall promises. In his view, the Aditynath government should ask for greater funds from the central government instead of fooling the people. Furthermore, he has attributed BJP’s resounding victory not to the Samajwadi Party but to the BSP. “It was not our vote bank but that of the Bahujan Samaj Party that shifted”, he said. Thus, he still believes that the people have faith in the ‘Akhilesh Yadav’ brand and that he can revive his support by strengthening his party at the local level.
The 2019 election was expected to be a gigantic battle between the Bharatiya Janata Party and a grand, united Opposition, led by the Congress. Although strengthening his party’s position in the state and staying out of alliances may be a pragmatic strategy for the Samajwadi Party currently, if the opposition in the country wants to wrest power from the incumbent BJP regime, a unified and stable Opposition is a necessity.
Featured Image Source: Flickr
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