Lucknow: In the New Year, the Samajwadi Party is seeking to consolidate its M-Y (Muslim- Yadav) base and pose a challenge to BJP’s M-Y (Modi-Yogi) — the latter having proved its power in the recent elections across the country.
The past one year has been a roller-coaster ride for the Samajwadis in Uttar Pradesh and the party is now reworking its strategies for 2023.
The party — following the demise of its founder Mulayam Singh Yadav and the rapprochement with Shivpal Singh Yadav — is working overtime to improve its performance in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.
SP president Akhilesh Yadav is also trying to counter allegations of being a drawing room politician.
He visited jailed party MLA Irfan Solanki in the Kanpur jail, a day before the latter was shifted to Maharajganj district jail.
He will also be paying a visit to Jhansi jail where another SP MLA Deepchand Yadav is lodged.
Akhilesh’s decision to meet his beleaguered party leaders is apparently designed to send a positive message to the party cadres.
The Samajwadi Party has lost three allies in UP after the 2022 Assembly polls — the Suheldev Bhartiya Samaj Party (SBSP), Mahaan Dal and Janwadi Party — but the SP has, more or less, made up for the loss by bringing in Shivpal Yadav into the party fold.
Shivpal Yadav is known for his organisational skills and ability to mobilise the party workers. Given an opportunity, he will play an important role in gearing up the party for the 2024 polls.
His return to the SP fold will also prevent a division in the Yadav vote base of the party.
A senior SP MLA, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said “Shivpal’s return to the party fold will prove to be an elixir for the party and also galvanise the veterans who had receded into their shells when the Akhilesh – Shivpal rift widened.”
According to party sources, Akhilesh will be looking towards new allies for the general elections, besides further cementing his friendship with the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD).
He will focus on smaller parties like Azad Samaj Party (Bhim Army) instead of looking towards the BSP and Congress.
“He knows that SP is the only party that can challenge the BJP in Uttar Pradesh. The results of the recent Assembly elections where the SP appreciably increased its vote percentage and also doubled its seats, is proof that it is SP alone that can challenge the BJP alliance,” said the MLA.
Another major change in the SP strategy for 2024 polls is its decision to openly support Muslims.
Akhilesh, since he took charge of the party in 2017, has been peddling soft Hindutva and trying to shed a pro-Muslim image.
“But Akhilesh is now speaking up against atrocities on Muslims. He has realized that the SP should follow his late father’s caste formula of Muslim-Yadav. The fact that he visited Irfan Solanki in jail, is a part of this strategy,” said a party leader.
The main challenge that Akhilesh will face in the coming days is the ‘respectable amalgamation’ of Shivpal Singh Yadav’s supporters. He is also expected to give a respectable position to Shivpal in the party.
According to sources, Akhilesh will ensure that winnability is the main factor in ticket distribution for the general elections.
“It is a case of every seat counts and the party will make sure that candidates are selected with care,” said a former MLC, known for his proximity to Akhilesh.
However, the biggest challenge that Akhilesh faces is that the BJP has an extremely well oiled organisational machinery and SP is no match for it yet.
Besides, Akhilesh is leading a one-man army while the BJP has multiple leaders who carpet bomb the entire state during elections.