Success in the electoral outcomes is the primary objective of every political party and each leader plans his electoral strategy well in advance, to fulfill the end motive. However, in India, political parties are often the result of a combination of family businesses immersed in politics, with one family being at the centre of each party. Apart from the notorious Gandhis of the Congress, UP based Samajwadi Party is one such major example. Founded by Mulayam Singh Yadav, the Yadav family has dominated the party for the past many decades. However, these Lok Sabha elections have been a brutal wake up call for the dynasties as all of them have been rendered politically irrelevant. Even in these tumultuous times, SP has ironically abided by its policy of ‘family first’.
BJP’s full majority has rendered all the other parties struggling for ground, and their popularity is only decreasing as the days go by. As such, after the 2017 Assembly elections in which BJP secured 325 seats as opposed to SP’s 54 seats, that too in an alliance with Congress, and the Lok Sabha elections in which the party just secured 5 seats; SP does not expect much. Thus, protecting their own interests, SP Chief Akhilesh Yadav is considering fielding his wife, Dimple Yadav from the Rampur assembly constituency in the by-polls. The seat has been traditionally held by Azam Khan, who vacated it after he got elected to the Lok Sabha in 2019.
Dimple Yadav’s performance in the Lok Sabha elections had been disastrous; fielded from Kannauj, she had lost her seat to BJP’s Subrat Pathak by a huge margin of around 12,000 votes. Now, irrespective of that, she is being considered one more time for candidature for contesting in the Rampur constituency.
It is obvious that the only practice under play here is the practice of family politics. Akhilesh Yadav has accepted the fact that his party may not reap any electoral rewards in the assembly elections. With Mulayam Singh rendered unfit for leadership, the party is slowing falling apart. While Akhilesh Yadav cannot force the party down people’s throats or even miraculously change the outcomes, what he can certainly do is, try and protect his family’s interests.
Thus, the contemplation to field Dimple Yadav makes perfect sense. By doing so, he has abided by his duty of a family man, protecting the wife. However, he has miserably failed at his duty as the chief of SP, reflecting the lack of internal democracy in the party. There are many candidates in the SP, those who were not fielded in the Lok Sabha so as to pave way for the alliance with BSP. Those deserving candidates were not given a chance and now, when the occasion arises yet again, the first priority is the interest of family member.
An acute case selfishness is visible when Akhilesh Yadav, in an attempt to achieve Dimple’s election, is ready to sacrifice the entire constituency. The mandate of the Lok Sabha elections has indicated that irrespective of the differing opinions, the citizens have unitedly rejected the dynastic politics in the country, and yet this is exactly what SP is diving into.
The prominent dynasties rendered seatless this time around are, Milind Deora, son of Congress leader Murli Deora, Priya Dutt, daughter of Congress leader Sunil Dutt, Parth Pawar, grand nephew of NCP leader Sharad Pawar and Nikhil Kumaraswamy, son of Karnataka CM HD Kumaraswamy. Apart from these, even Vaibhav Gehlot, son of Congress leader and Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot has failed to garner the seat, despite the massive campaigning done by his father on his behalf.
If these are not enough to throw a prudent person off the idea of dynasties, then the biggest examples certainly should. There is no bigger dynasty than the Gandhis and the Scindias. Jyotiraditya Scindia lost from his Guna bastion and Rahul Gandhi was ousted from the traditional Congress stronghold of Amethi.
Nevertheless, power hungry Akhilesh Yadav has decided to take a chance. Disrespecting the mandate of the people, and neglecting the deserving and qualified SP leaders, he is contemplating on picking his wife as the candidate for the seat. In order to make her chances as good as possible, a senior SP leader also stated that BSP and Congress will not field any candidate, to essentially eliminate all competition. Jaya Prada shall be the BJP candidate for the Rampur Assembly seat.
Akhilesh Yadav is adopting a strategy similar to the likes of Kamal Nath. In the state of MP, Nath had focused his entire energy and resources on his son, Nakul Nath’s seat, thereby ensuring a victory for his son. Even though the Congress lost all their seats in MP, Nakul Nath secured one, thus, keeping the Nath family in power.
The most disappointing fact is SP’s inability to learn. In their own way, Congress has at least realised the drawbacks of dynastic politics and how it has led to the downfall of the party. In an effort to make amends, even on the face of it, the Gandhis have decided to step away from the working of the Congress party and are seeking election of a non Gandhi president, even though they may still be calling the shots in the shadows. Akhilesh Yadav has reacted differently to SP’s existential threat and is keen on garnering as much power for the family before the inevitable doom of the party. Looking at the broader perspective, it is obvious that SP has short term goals in its mind. It seems that, be it by hook or by crook, Akhilesh Yadav wants to elect as many family members to power, as possible.