A confident Akhilesh Yadav flexed his muscle to prove he has the support of over 200 MLAs in the Samajwadi Party, out of the party's total strength of 229. Aggressive supporters of the Uttar Pradesh chief minister thronged the Vikramaditya Marg in Lucknow to let the world know the boy has become a man and is capable of taking on the combined might of father Mulayam Singh Yadav and uncle Shivpal.
It was always known that the Mulayam-Shivpal had the muscle, while beta Akhilesh had the image. But in politics, actual power comes from the support of party workers and people at large.
So while many thought the upcoming Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh would see a split SP, with father and son fighting against each other, making the state a five-cornered toss-up, it appears like it's the son who would take the cake (whatever be the numbers and voteshare), leaving just crumbs for the father-uncle combine.
A snap poll conducted by C-Voter in the Avadh, Bundelkhand, Lower Doab, Upper Doab, Ruhelkhand and Poorvanchal districts of Uttar Pradesh indicated that Akhilesh commands an overwhelming support over father Mulayam. The survey looked at all social segments and various strata of society and community; different age and income groups, upper castes, OBCs, Muslims and Yadavs, men and women, urban, semi-urban and rural voters.
And they all pointed towards a resounding victory for Akhilesh: Over 81.4 percent of the respondents favoured the incumbent chief minister, while only 5 percent favoured Mulayam. Another 5.8 percent voters were undecided.
Akhilesh's camp would be heartened to note that these trends hold true even among senior citizens. In the age group of 60 years and above, Akhilesh enjoyed an 81.1 percent support while Mulayam saw just 4.6 percent backing him. In fact, Akhilesh's support went down to 80 percent while Mulayam's rose to 5.8 among young voters of under 25 years of age. The patriarch was backed by just 4.7 percent voters in the age group of 25 to 45.
Among Muslim voters, 84.7 respondents supported Akhilesh and only 4.8 backed Mulayam, while 86 percent of Yadavs opted for Akhilesh over his father as against just 5.7 percent who thought otherwise.
Explaining its research methodology, C-Voter said, "The team interviewed over 50,000 respondents thus far in the last 12 weeks. Of these, the researchers recontacted 5,623 randomly selected Samajwadi Party supporters across 403 Assembly segments in the last three days (3-5 January, 2017). They were asked one question, 'If the party splits into two, who would you vote for: Akhilesh or Mulayam?' The data is representative of the entire Samajwadi Party support base and the MoE (margin of error) is +/- 3 percent at the state level and +/- 5 percent at the regional level."
Both father and son have already petitioned the Election Commission, claiming the party's name and the cycle symbol for themselves. However, efforts to bring about peace between the warring segments hasn't worked out yet.
Firstpost had earlier written about how many SP supporters still believe father and son would call a truce and contest the elections in a united manner. After all, it was Mulayam who anointed Akhilesh as chief minister of India's most populous state, even though he didn't have the required maturity or experience to lead such a critical state. Since then, all twists and turns in the no-holds-barred family war have played out in the public eye. All of this has led to one singular fact: Akhilesh has emerged much stronger than what he was six months ago. Whether this was by Mulayam's design or otherwise, the fact remains that Akhilesh has taken his political inheritance to great heights. Regardless of which way the election shapes up for the Samajwadi Party, fact remains that Akhilesh has been a worthy inheritor of Mulayam's legacy in all regards, in all forms and substance: saam, daam, dand, bhed.
Clearly, it's time Mulayam Singh Yadav, the strongman of yesterday, now realise time and age have gotten the better of him. Son Akhilesh has grown out of the shadows, and cannot have his father or uncle act as puppeteers for him anymore. This C-Voter survey proves Akhilesh is ready to become a leader in his own right.
Updated Date: Jan 06, 2017 20:22 PM