What next for Akhilesh Yadav? Will he chart his own independent course in the complex politics of Uttar Pradesh or will he wait out the expulsion period, biding his time to make a dignified comeback to the Samajwadi Party? It’s too early to predict at this point. But one thing is clear: coming only months before the crucial assembly polls it has made the political scenario in the state immensely interesting.
The options are limited for Akhilesh indeed. If he goes it alone, it would be difficult for him to take on the might of the party which still remains largely loyal to father Mulayam Singh. The latter maybe aging but is in no way a spent force. Bother Shivpal, who is close to him, still controls the nuts and bolts of the party, and by extension its rank and file. If he opts for an alliance with any other party — it is reported that he is not averse to a tie-up with the Congress — there’s little possibility of his scoring big in electoral gains. The Congress is likely to gain more from such an alliance than Akhilesh.
Moreover, he is still an untested quantity in UP’s politics. He may have been partly successful as chief minister and the party’s credible young and modern face, but he still has to win an election on his own. It’s his father’s appeal and uncle’s alliance-making skills that secured a massive victory for the party in 2012. He might have developed his own small support base, but whatever decision he takes would be fraught with heavy risks.
But yes, it takes courage to take on someone like Mulayam. After virtually challenging the authority of his father with a candidates’ list of his own, he couldn’t have expected to be treated with kid gloves. It is possible he carried his bluff too far, but then he had shown the similar unyielding streak when he got into a bitter feud with his uncle Shivpal a couple of months ago. If he wanted to wrest the control of the party from the latter, it was simply not on the cards. He had either to be either too stupid or too overconfident of his popularity as a leader.
It is possible he has a game plan ready. We need to wait and watch how things unfold. There would be pressure from the party’s rank and file on Mulayam to revise his decision because it cannot afford a division of core votes. It would be suicidal for the Samajwadi Party with the BSP and BJP breathing down its neck.
How does the political equation pan out in the state now? The BJP has no reason to be ecstatic about the developments. There may be a wholesale shift of the Muslim vote bank of the party to the BSP, in which case the latter gains heavily. Mayawati’s party is already seen as the strongest contender to power in 2017; the addition of Muslim votes to its kitty will make its position unassailable. A united Samajwadi Party with the incumbency factor against it would have served its interest better. It might gain a good chunk of Yadav votes, a constituency it has been nursing for some time now, but it might not give the party a decisive result.
The Congress, still struggling to revive itself, may make minor gains by aligning with Akhilesh. The latter is known to be in friendly terms with Rahul Gandhi. In case of an alliance, it could also get a portion of Muslim votes. The real issue, however, is how strong is Akhilesh on the ground? Is his support base big enough to ensure for him a good bargaining position vis-a-vis the Congress?
We have to wait for his next move.
Updated Date: Dec 30, 2016 21:47:28 IST