UP polls: BJP tries to hit SP where it hurts most, projects rift in the Yadav 'unity' like in 2017

Five years ago, Mulayam Singh Yadav had disapproved of an SP-Congress alliance and his brother Shivpal had rebelled against Akhilesh.

Aman Sharma January 20, 2022 12:43:41 IST
UP polls: BJP tries to hit SP where it hurts most, projects rift in the Yadav 'unity' like in 2017

Aparna Yadav, former Uttar Pradesh chief minister Mulayam Singh Yadav's daughter-in-law, joins BJP in the presence of Uttar Pradesh deputy chief minister Keshav Prasad Maurya (L) and and BJP state chief Swatantra Dev Singh (R), at the BJP headquarters in New Delhi. PTI

After losing three ministers and half a dozen other MLAs to the Samajwadi Party, the BJP is now trying to hit the Yadav clan’s ‘unity’ in an effort to remind people of the situation in 2017 when the bitter divide inside the family had been laid bare.

Mulayam Singh Yadav’s daughter-in-law Aparna Yadav joined the Bharatiya Janata Party on Wednesday. A day earlier, BJP’s senior leader and former Uttar Pradesh unit president Laxmikant Bajpai asserted that the SP patriarch’s brother Shivpal Yadav was also in touch with the saffron party. Shivpal was quick to rubbish such claims.

Then, on Wednesday, another close relative of Mulayam and a former Samajwadi Party MP, Pramod Gupta, alleged that the Mainpuri MP had been virtually kept hostage in Lucknow by the Yadav family. Gupta may also join the BJP soon. Last week, another Mulayam relative and three-time SP MLA, Hari Om Yadav, had also joined the Bharatiya Janata Party.

A senior BJP leader in Delhi told News18 that this seemed reminiscent of the bitter divide inside the Yadav family about five years ago when Mulayam Singh Yadav had disapproved of the SP-Congress alliance and Shivpal had rebelled against Akhilesh. While inducting Aparna Yadav, deputy chief minister Keshav Prasad Maurya said Akhilesh had been a failure inside his family besides being a failure as a politician.

While BJP leaders concede that there may be limited electoral dividend in inducting Aparna, who lost in the 2017 polls, the optics of her entry suit the BJP in projecting a big divide in the Yadav family.

Several BJP leaders are now aggressively pushing other past content from 2017 on social media channels as well where Mulayam Singh Yadav was heard criticising his son. “People of the state know that once the SP loses on March 10 in Uttar Pradesh, all hell is again going to break loose inside the family and the various allies of SP will also desert them. We are only trying to make people reminisce of what happened in 2017 — this is where it hurts the Yadav family the most,” the BJP leader quoted above said.

SP leaders say they are well aware of the BJP’s strategy and, hence, Shivpal Yadav quickly countered the misleading claims on Wednesday and said he stood strongly with Akhilesh Yadav. “The fact remains that Aparna Yadav was no big leader for the Samajwadi Party and was hardly active politically for the past five years. But the three ministers and other BJP MLAs who joined us last week are all major OBC faces of UP and their exit has hurt the BJP severely,” a senior Samajwadi Party leader told News18 on the phone from Lucknow.

The BJP also put up a show of strength in Delhi by bringing both its allies on the same stage and said they will contest the 403 UP assembly seats together in the February-March polls. It is believed that both the Apna Dal and Nishad Party are seeking seats in double digits, implying that the BJP may contest less than the 384 seats it contested the last time, in 2017. “But where is the seat distribution in the SP-RLD-SBSP camp? How many seats is Shivpal Yadav getting? They have just declared less than 40 tickets while BJP has already declared 109 tickets so far,” a BJP leader said.

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