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From Kranti to Vikas, Challenging road ahead for Akhilesh’s Rath Yatra

*It is second Rath Yatra by Akhilesh Yadav wherein he has to sell his development plank.

*Amidst acrimony in Yadav parivar, Akhilesh has to emerge as independent leader.

*From rustic image of Samajwadi Party, Akhilesh to transform it into hi-tech people friendly party.

FAISAL FAREED
LUCKNOW

In the backdrop of power tussle in Samajwadi Party Akhilesh Yadav will embark on a journey as a litmus test for his political innings on November 3. In six years, the name of the journey has changed from Kranti (revolution) to Vikas (development).

Akhilesh will begin the first lap of his journey on a modified Volvo bus which has been named as Samajwadi Vikas Rath. In 2011 when he first began his journey on a similar bus, it was named Kranti Rath.

In the Rath Yatra Akhilesh will have to face three challenges—firstly he has to make the yatra successful by pulling huge crowd so as to establish his clout in party where he has faced stiff opposition from his uncle Shivpal. Secondly he has to ensure that ‘development’ plank on which he is taking out the yatra will sell in coming polls unlike the caste ridden politics of hindi belt thus getting a seal of approval for his governance. Thirdly he has to attain the acceptability among the Yadav and Muslim community who are supposed to be supporters of his father Mulayam. Lastly he has to ensure that Brand Akhilesh now is an independent entity in UP which has emerged from the shadows of his father Mulayam.

Touring the state on a modified bus naming it as a Rath is unique to Samajwadi Party as before 1989 elections Mulayam Singh Yadav undertook similar journey on a Kranti Rath and ended up as chief minister of UP heading Janata Dal government.

For Akhilesh situation is now different as they were in 2011-12. Already the country has witnessed a political drama in Yadav family. The clamour for power is exposed in the public. Akhilesh has to battle it out within his family for a stronger status in SP.

In these circumstances, the proposed rath yatra will also decide the future of Akhilesh. The turnout during this yatra will be a barometer to cement his position not only among opposition but also within his party and family. Realising it Akhilesh supporters mainly youth have drawn up plans for making the yatra a grand success. The first lap will start from grounds of Lamart college which is opposite CM’s residence in Lucknow and will cross Gomti Nagar and enter Unnao and later end at Kanpur. In 2011 Akhilesh had began his Yatra from outside SP office at Vikramditya Marg and both Mulayam and Shivpal were there to flag off his journey. Shivpal even presented a purse to him for the yatra. It will be interesting to see if both them again turn up for the event on November 3.

It will be also important for Akhilesh to garner crowd for the yatra. With supporters of Shivpal and Akhilesh having exchanged blows outside party office, it is now established that there will differences on the ground. Akhilesh’s supporters have to pull up their socks to make the show of young turk a success. “We understand the prevailing situation. We are leaving no stone unturned. The support is coming on its own from people due to CM. Believe me the crowd will be unprecendented,” Sunil Singh Sajan, MLC and close aide of Akhilesh stated. Due to his closeness, he has been expelled from the party by Shivpal.

The yatra will pass through Unnao which has sizeable population of Yadavs—the base vote of SP. Akhilesh also has to show his support among the community which has rendered unflinching support to Mulayam Singh. In 2012, the community had backed SP. A successful Yatra will also ensure that Yadavs now are with Akhilesh as the baton has been passed to him in the party. In 2012, though Akhilesh arranged the show but Mulayam still claims that people had voted for making him as CM while he eventually made Akhilesh as CM.

Unnao the first major district which will be covered by Akhilesh will throw up many challenges. The district is the home district of Sajan, a supporter of Akhilesh while it also is native of SP MLA Udairaj Yadav who is in Shivpal camp. The Lok Sabha seat is represented by Sakshi Maharaj of BJP. SP insiders informed that Akhilesh will be welcomed at every two kilometers and workers will celebrate will both—Diwali and Holi with crackers and colors as Akhilesh hits the road.