With a year to go for the all-important Uttar Pradesh assembly polls, the Samajwadi Party has launched its own version of temple-hopping, on the lines of Rahul Gandhi’s travels to Hindu places of worship prior to the 2017 Gujarat polls and the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Former Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav has realised that even dreaming of taking on the Yogi juggernaut in UP needs a strategy to rethink and overhaul on the part of the SP. So, like many other opposition parties, Akhilesh Yadav is playing the soft-Hindutva card. However, the state’s Muslims are not liking this strategy, and their votes are now about to be split between Owaisi’s AIMIM and Congress.
It all began, when on December 15 last year, Akhilesh landed in Ayodhya where a grand Ram Mandir is being built, to emphasise all the “religious work” his party had done in the city. “Lord Rama belongs to the Samajwadi Party. We are Ram bhakts (devotees) and Krishna bhakts,” he had said back then.
For trying to appropriate Shri Ram as solely being a deity of the Samajwadi Party, Akhilesh Yadav courted no controversy, as the liberal media chose to ignore his statement. However, UP’s Muslims did not give a miss to such explicitly pro-Hindutva signals being given by the SP Chief.
Akhilesh has not looked back ever since. As reported by ThePrint, he was at the famous Lakshman Pahari Temple in Chitrakoot, Madhya Pradesh, on 8 January. On the same day, he also visited the Kamadgiri Temple in Chitrakoot. In a tweet dated January 10, Yadav tweeted a picture with the caption, “Hare Rama, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna Hare Hare.”
Ten days later, Akhilesh was at the Vimalnath temple at Farrukhabad in UP and, on 24 January, he visited the Buddha Temple at Shravasti. Apart from hopping from one temple to the other, the self-proclaimed socialist leader, who should ideally be an atheist, has also been meeting Hindu saints. On 4 January, he even announced that no tax would be collected from religious places if his party was elected to power in assembly polls next year.
Such excessive display of being a pro-Hindu by Akhilesh Yadav, whose party has historically grabbed power in the state by relying on the Muslim vote along with that of its dedicated caste vote banks, has not augured well for Samajwadi traditionalists. Ground inputs suggest that the Muslims particularly, are being alienated by the Samajwadi Party’s growing affinity towards soft-Hindutva. Already having witnessed how an SP-BSP combine failed miserably in 2019, the state’s Muslims are actively evaluating their political options now.
At the forefront is Owaisi’s AIMIM, which rest assured, will cut votes in Muslim-dominated constituencies, and perhaps even win them, like the scrapping of butter with a knife. Not far behind the AIMIM is the Congress, for which the Muslims will not shy away from voting after withdrawing their support to the Akhilesh and Samajwadi Party. Effectively, what used to be a consolidated Muslim vote for the SP thus far, will next year be cut tremendously by the AIMIM and the Congress.
We do not really need to spill out who benefits from such a division of traditionally consolidated vote banks. The BJP is very well entering 2022 in a position of strength. The Hindus are rallying behind it big time, while the Muslim vote gets divided into three portions after the failure of Akhilesh Yadav’s grand plan of the SP-BSP alliance. Rest assured, the BJP will storm to power in Uttar Pradesh once again come 2022.