SP Overconfidence backfires in LS Bypolls

Arijit Bose

For the Samajwadi party, the defeat in Azamgarh and Rampur have raised concerns about the future of the party. Particularly in the Yadav belt, the slipping mass base and the division of Muslim votes seem to be becoming a big problem for the SP in the runup to the political season of 2024. More or less the results of the by-election have made it clear that in view of the current situation, it will be important for SP chief Akhilesh Yadav to deal with the pressure of strong leaders for ticket in the party as well as to give preference to the local organization. At the same time, it will also be necessary to stop the Muslim-Yadav votes from spilling out in their stronghold.

There is an internal discussion in SP that Dharmendra Yadav did not want to contest from Azamgarh. He was adamant to work from his Budaun seat, but under pressure from Swami Prasad Maurya, who recently joined the SP, Dharmendra Yadav was pushed from Badaun. Swami Prasad wants his daughter Sanghamitra Maurya to fight from Badaun in 2024. In Azamgarh, family members remained political scope for Dharmendra Yadav, as a result, Dharmendra was dropped from Azamgarh. There was discontent in the local SP organization that if a chance was to be given, a local leader could also be contested. Akhilesh had to deal with a similar situation in Rampur as well. Even before the Lok Sabha elections, the Samajwadi Party had failed to understand the reason for Azam Khan’s anger. Azam wanted a ticket in the by-election for himself and his loved ones, so resentment was made a weapon. It would not be wrong to say that the SP chief could not handle this bet very well. The fact was also denied that in the year 2019, SP-BSP were together and Azam Khan had won. The SP chief made a mistake in understanding what would be the political equation in the absence of BSP.

Political experts say that the Samajwadi Party is failing to save its vote bank in its own stronghold. Although there was a lot of Yadav vote shift in favor of Nirahua, but the BJP tried hard to align the youth of Yadav society with the help of Hindutva and law and order. How successful the BJP was in this is not clear, but a change in 1-2 per cent votes cannot be ruled out. Under a similar strategy, the BJP has been making a dent in the SP’s stronghold for the last two elections by fielding a Yadav candidate from Jaunpur city. By fighting BJP government minister Girish Yadav from Jaunpur, BJP has not only given option to Yadav community there but is ensuring its victory twice. On some similar lines, the bet went to Azamgarh as well. Nirahua won in that situation while the strong leaders of Azamgarh, Durgashankar Yadav, Balram Yadav and Ramakant Yadav were busy in election management. In the assembly elections, the BJP defeated the SP in Kannauj by pitching a similar candidate.

BSP chief Mayawati has been in constant efforts to woo Muslim votes since she lost the assembly elections. She is constantly saying that the Muslim society has been misled and only the BSP is capable of taking on the BJP. At the same time, the SP has been besieging the BSP for making a dent in its Muslim vote bank. While in Azamgarh, BSP’s Muslim candidate Guddu Jamali got a large number of minorities’ votes. BSP robbed SP’s vote bank. When the SP-BSP contested the 2019 elections together, Akhilesh Yadav got more than six lakh votes. The big challenge for the Samajwadi Party is how to prevent the division of the Muslim vote bank of the BSP.

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