UP election results were historic and watershed. BJP in the form of a national party decimated regional outfits. BSP and SP were caught at the epicenter of the devastating Modi wave with an unprecedented destruction in terms of polity. Whilst BSP and Mayawati are fighting for survival, SP is seemingly locked in a civil war of sorts.
The infighting in SP was prevalent before the elections. All the drama surrounding the feud certainly gave a negative effect in the minds of the voters. This led to an emphatic loss as this very infighting mixed with heavy anti-incumbency worked against the ruling Akhilesh govt.
The fight between the uncles and Akhilesh Yadav to take over the reins of the party has accelerated after a dismal UP election performance. Akhilesh Yadav was the face of UP elections and after a monumental loss, he was expected to resign. As this seems unlikely, the bickering in the party has nothing but intensified and now is heading for a decisive turn.
Shivpal Yadav had an acrimonious political relationship with Akhilesh after the latter as the CM had sacked him from the cabinet. Shivpal was particularly unhappy with Akhilesh calling the shots in the organization especially with respect to UP elections. The entire election campaign was the brainchild of Akhilesh Yadav who forged an alliance with the Congress party.
Apart from aligning with a party which is losing its pan India sheen, agreeing to part about a 100 seats for the Congress became the bone of contention. The loss was blamed on SP-Congress tie up and after the elections became the center piece of a demand for Akhilesh to step down. (SP-Congress gathered just 54 out of 403).
Nevertheless, even after loss in elections, Akhilesh continued to side-line his uncles. He named Ram Chowdhary as the leader of the opposition in the assembly instead of Shivpal Yadav.
After all the drama, Senior SP leader Shivpal Yadav has finally proposed the formation of a new outfit. The new entity is expected to be called as ‘Samajwadi secular front or Morcha’ and Mulayam Singh Yadav is going to be the chieftain for the same.
Shivpal retorted that in order to restore the lost dignity of Mulayam Singh Yadav and to bring all Samajwadis under one platform, there will be an announcement of secular front in Lucknow. Donning a socialist attire, the front aims to bring all Samajwadis together. It will include farmers, youth and discontented SP workers or leaders. However, the structure, role and function of the front have still not been explained. It’s unclear if the new entity will be a party, a pressure group or a breakaway faction of the parent SP.
Nevertheless, political pundits have emphasized this step of secular front is nothing more than posturing and applying pressure tactics. The state of the party SP is like break down of AIADMK into its OPS and EPS factions hovering over the issue of Sasikala Natarajan and the legacy of Jayalalitha.
The legacy of Mulayam Singh is torn between old war horses like Shivpal and next generational Akhilesh.
Even if the said front comes into its existence in any of its hypothetical forms, it would further derail the opposition unity which is being talked about to take on the BJP nationally. After Lalu expose by channel ‘The Republic’, the Nitish Kumar factor in a united opposition seems to have met with a heavy blow. Adding to that, the formation of the secular front because of infighting may just further weaken a united opposition. This front may act as a hindrance to the proposed ‘opposition front’ of all parties to be mounted against Modi govt. The onset of formation of it is also coinciding with Presidential elections and may hurt opposition chances.
The other aspect may result in division of men, party file and rank to dwindle their hopes in the upcoming urban local body elections where the SP is contesting on its symbol. Whatever may be the fate of the secular front, invariably Akhilesh will have to face the brunt as it will impede his decision making processes and render him powerless to script a revival.
Where does SP patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav stand in this latest battle pertaining to the family feud?
Mulayam said Shivpal didn’t speak to him before announcing the secular front and he would talk to his disgruntled brother to pacify him. However, Mulayam has given a balanced diplomatic reaction as he defended his brother against his son yet quickly dismissed speculations of an eminent party split. Even MSY believes it will further weaken the party’s prospects in future elections.
A secular front coming out of SP seems a tactical make over to bring Akhilesh Yadav in line. But this will not only weaken the party but also cast a spell over talks of a united challenge to be mounted against PM Modi.
Shivpal Yadav has given 3 months to Akhilesh to step down and pave way for Mulayam or else they will form the Secular Morcha. With the tussle taking new twists and turns, time will tell if a battered SP cycle will move ahead or face more internal melt down.