Mulayam takes charge for 2014 polls
By Subhash Mishra - LUCKNOW
Published: 13th Oct 2013 06:00:00 AM
His concerns for the Samajwadi Party’s performance in 2014 Lok Sabha elections have brought him back to the centrestage. With the elections drawing closer, the national president of the Samajwadi Party, Mulayam Singh Yadav has taken the hot seat. Taking total control of the party and of the government headed by his son, UP chief minister Akhilesh Yadav, who has failed to live up to the expectations of the general masses in the last one-and-a-half-years of rule, Yadav senior has not only overtaken policy decision making but also day-to-day governance. He has also taken command of preparations for the 2014 polls.
Yadav has started dusting off his tried-and-tested formula of proper application of the caste arithmetic in the elections to win maximum seats. Taking the first step for strengthening his social equations, he has compelled his reluctant son to re-induct muscleman Raghuraj Pratap Singh alias Raja Bhaiyya in the ministry on October 12.
Undeterred by the nationwide criticism of his Samajwadi Party government for the poor handling of the western UP communal riots in September (a good number of tickets are being returned by the sulking candidates expressing their inability over contesting election from the party) and young ministers protesting against their neglect in the government, Yadav senior has decided to lead his army from the front.
As per Mulayam’s calculations, Raghuraj Pratap Singh is the Rajput face in the UP politics and has the ability to associate men of his caste with the Samajwadi Party. Now it is to be seen whether Mulayam’s gamble will work this time because the national president of the BJP Rajnath Singh, also a powerful Rajput personality, is another warrior and a key opponent who enjoys the backing of his castemen cutting across all political hues.
Mulayam Singh Yadav is shuffling the candidates for the 2014 parliamentary elections. So far, the party had declared 76 candidates. One third of these have already been changed. One after another, candidates are returning tickets and showing disinterest in contesting the election. Insiders say some 17 candidates have expressed their inability to go to the elections on the SP ticket and this is making the party tense.
The SP chief may change more candidates in the days to come. Another reason behind the frequent changes in the tickets is strong reports of an undeclared electoral alliance between the Congress and the BSP. In this case, say Mulayam aides, the party will face substantial erosion of Muslim votes. The community is already sore over the communal riots and disenchanted with the party.
Samajwadi Party is trying to make inroads into the Brahmin caste. They, like the Rajputs, play an important role in the socio-political set up. However, it will be seen whether Mulayam’s calculations do not go awry after the BJP prime ministerial candidate, Narendra Modi, storms the state soon. Modi is to address his first public meeting in Kanpur on October 19.
To lure the OBCs, the SP chief has risked fielding Shivkanya Kushwaha, wife of the imprisoned BSP minister Babu Singh Kushwaha, from Ghazipur despite eyebrows being raised within the party by leaders who described the Kushwaha family as a liability in the polls.
However, Yadav is confident the Kushwaha-gamble would fetch votes of most OBCs for his party because the imprisoned BSP minister, Babu Singh Kushwaha, had in the recent months worked hard to win over the OBCs and that chunk would support the SP now.
Apart from consolidating the party in different caste and social groups, Yadav has declared he would fan out support in the state and address as many as 18 rallies across the state. The father-son duo would hop the state soon and their first public meeting will be held on October 28.
The dismal performance of his son’s government is a sticky patch for Mulayam. With a complete and historic majority, guaranteeing a solid stability, the SP had dreamt its performance and the populist schemes would propel the party to Centre for a dominant role.
But in the last one-and-a half-years, the popularity of the party has faded and that bothers Yadav senior.