The new sultan of Samajwadi Party (SP) is finally born. Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav’s sacking of Shivpal Yadav, his uncle and president of SP in UP from cabinet transcends thesis of family feud and points not only to a serious conflict between legislative and organisational wings of party, but also testifies rebirth of Akhilesh asserting himself as real power centre both in party and government. By this, Akhilesh has demolished charge of multiple CMs in UP. More than victory, Akhilesh is taking the party and government on new trajectory devoid of criminals, corrupt and crony-socialists. Dr. Lohia stood against casteism, criminality, dynasticism and populism – traits that have become hallmark of the present SP. So, Akhilesh is differentiating between good samajwadi and bad samajwadi to take UP towards development.
By roping in Harvard Professor Steve Jarding as his campaign consultant, Akhilesh signaled that he would not take dictation from Mulayam and Shivpal for coming polls. Akhilesh has pushed himself into competitive mode of development vis-a-vis the Modi government. If he takes the new trajectory, he is likely to get the peoples’ support.
The Muslims who traditionally vote for the SP are now at crossroads; whether to vote Akhilesh or Shivpal? Many think that Muslim mafia don Mukhtar Ansari, who recently merged his Quami Ekta Dal with SP, may be a factor in swinging Muslim votes towards Shivpal. But, Muslims may realize that old samajwadis, including Mulayam Singh Yadav, are being assigned to history bins and may prefer Akhilesh.
The Yadavs may split between rival factions of SP though many may think that Mulayam may be, internally, with his son. However, some division in traditional supporters of SP may not be ruled out though that may be more than compensated by new supporters, especially from development-oriented youth.
Both Yadavs and Muslims, traditional supporters of the SP, are less likely to vote for BJP. But, inadvertently, they may help it. The Yadav votes may get divided between rival factions of SP, and the Muslims, apart from ones choosing to stick with the SP, may turn either to the Congress or to the BSP which is pursuing the Dalit-Muslim coalition.
However, the caste calculus may take the backseat, and Akhilesh’s amalgamation of socialism with development may trump over caste in run-up to 2017 Assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh.
Author is Director, Centre for the Study of Society and Politics, Kanpur