LUCKNOW: A family feud which shrouded Samajwadi Party’s performance in the 2017 UP Assembly elections, seems to be casting its shadow on the upcoming Lok Sabha polls as well. SP Chief Akhilesh Yadav’s rebel uncle Shivpal is set to challenge his other nephew Akshay Yadav by contesting from Firozabad.
Akshay, son of party general secretary and Rajya Sabha member Ram Gopal Yadav, made his political debut from the city of bangles in 2014. According to the party’s first list, Akshay will contest from Firozabad once again for the big battle of 2019.
Stung by insults allegedly inflicted by Akhilesh, sulking Shivpal not only floated his own Pragatisheel Samajwadi Party–Lohia (PSP-L) in October last year but also declared to field candidates on all 80 seats with a purpose to dent SP prospects in the LS polls. He claimed his purpose was to breach the Yadav vote bank, on which he had an equal right as he nurtured it shoulder to shoulder with SP patriarch and elder brother Mulayam Singh Yadav.
In fact, Shivpal chose Firozabad to challenge the might of Samajwadi Party to settle a political score with elder cousin Ram Gopal by locking in an electoral battle with Akshay.
During the last two and a half years, the bitterness between Shivpal and Ram Gopal has increased. At the fag end of 2016, when the feud in the family was at its peak, Ram Gopal sided with Akhilesh whereas Shivpal stood firmly with Netaji (Mulayam Singh Yadav).
The political pundits believe that it was the brain of Ram Gopal who instigated Akhilesh to depose his father and uncle Shivpal in a coup of sorts on the morning of January 1, 2018. Veteran Samajwadis still feel that it was this feud and Akhilesh’s ‘pejorative’ and ‘contemptuous’ approach which pushed the party to a shameful defeat in 2017.
The war between Shivpal and Ram Gopal became even more conspicuous when the former floated his own party PSP-L.
Moreover, Shivpal was accused by Akhilesh and Ram Gopal of becoming the BJP’s B team.
However, after the SP-BSP alliance, Shivpal won support from a number of SP veterans who could earlier not digest the idea of a pact with arch-rival Mayawati. Even Mulayam had reprimanded son Akhilesh for compromising the party’s stature by forming an alliance with the BSP.
Mulayam’s close confidante, relative and party MLA from Sirsaganj under Firozabad parliamentary constituency, Hariom Yadav, decided to choose Shivpal over Akhilesh. Other prominent SP leaders like former MLA Mohammad Azim also joined Shivpal. Azim also comes from Firozabad.
In the given situation, if Shivpal contests from Firozabad, the path to victory for sitting MP Akshay Yadav will not be so easy. Shivpal’s presence would divide not only the traditional Yadav vote bank but also confuse the Muslim voters.
Akshay had defeated BJP’s SP Singh Baghel with a margin of 1,14,059 votes in 2014.
Significantly, the depleting base of the Samajwadi Party in Firozabad became evident in 2017 assembly polls when SP lost four of five assembly constituencies under Firozabad parliamentary segment to the BJP. The lone SP MLA is now with Shivpal.