The banished son vowed victory for his father; the old guard relented. The Samajwadi Party’s feuding first family is united again, at least for anyone outside its inner circle.
Supporters are upbeat after months of uncertainty, and their chest-thumping ahead of the 2017 assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh resumed in earnest on Saturday.
“When party workers are ready to give their lives for their leader, no one can stop its victory in elections,” remarked one of them.
The rallying point for such gusto could be the expulsion of young chief minister Akhilesh Yadav from the party, a move that might push them to strive hard for his victory. For his part, Akhilesh sought to gift his father a victory in 2017.
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But the average voter — and even some traditional Samajwadi backers — could find the family saga a little too disturbing.
Former political science professor SK Dwivedi drew from Aristotle to explain this point. “Akhilesh may have won the family war, but could lose the electoral battle,” he said, referring to the Greek philosopher’s theory that family feuds are an important cause of rift in polity.
According to him, it is advantage BJP.
Of the two important vote banks of the party, Yadavs may unite to ensure the party’s victory. But Muslims may divide. This is precisely what the demonetisation-hit BJP is anxiously expecting.
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Another expert, referring to the souring relationship between Akhilesh and Shivpal, said: “The open war will turn into hidden conspiracies to defeat candidates of each other.”
Sabotage is hardly on the minds of excited SP leaders, overconfident of retaining power.
“This election will be fought on the slogan of development and not caste and creed. No one can defeat the SP when Mulayam and Akhilesh are together,” a leader said, echoing a common view.
But more corrective measures will be needed to undo the damage done to the party, experts believe. Purging the party of criminal elements is one of them. An alliance with the Congress could be another step.
Conciliatory moves are still on, coming even from rival camps. Congress leader Ammar Rizvi advised Mulayam to save the party. “The SP has to remain united to defeat the communal forces in UP,” he said.