March 11, the D-Day, has added a revolutionary chapter to the history of Indian politics. Uttar Pradesh has designated BJP as the next party to take charge in the state. It has booted out the incumbent Samajwadi Party of Akhilesh Yadav, anticipating a new wave of development by the saffron party. But what other factors contributed to bring this defeat to the SP need to be divulged.
In the era when SP ruled the state, Akhilesh was regarded as the “youth icon” and face of the party. As the 33rd CM of Uttar Pradesh, he assumed office on March 15, 2012, as the youngest CM of the state.
He began his political career as an elected member of the Lok Sabha for the Kannauj constituency in a by-election in 2000. Then, again in 2004, he was elected as a member of the 14th Lok Sabha for a second term. He was elected to the 15th Lok Sabha for a third term in 2009.
However, his string of triumphs one after the other has finally broken with a smashing defeat at the hands of the BJP. The tables have turned.
In 2012, Akhilesh, as son of SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, was credited for the ground-breaking party victory with 224 of 403 seats in the Assembly, while this year the same leader has been able to fetch only 56 seats.
What caused the fall of the empire?
The feud in the Samajwadi Party had been going on for long but it was Akhilesh’s decision to marginalise father Mulayam that brought a twist. No doubt his vantage point made the CM win absolute majority within the party and gave him a leg up to subdue political rivals within his family, but the power struggle between the father, uncle and son gave the message of conflict to voters and ultimately led to the SP’s poll debacle.
Also, the last-minute alliance between Akhilesh and Congress’s Rahul Gandhi that was expected to draw young voters seemed to have been futile. A state where the majority of voters are below 35 years of age has made it clear that “being young” is not the only requirement to win votes of the present generation. The youth demands actions and a change in society for a brighter future.
Akhilesh, perhaps, foreseeing defeat decided to, in the end, unbolt all doors to stop the BJP. In a recent interview to BBC Hindi, he said he was willing to do anything to keep the saffron party at bay and even hinted at forming a post-poll alliance with the BSP.
However, the clean sweep by the BJP has eliminated all possibilities for the SP to come back to power in UP for now.
“Kaam bolta hai”
“I have done work and I am happy and ready to form the government once again,” said Akhilesh, proclaiming throughout his campaign that “kaam bolta hai”. He had been conducting the election campaign on the strength of development projects initiated by the SP, such as the Metro and expressway. The party also claimed to have distributed 18 lakh laptops to students on the basis of merit, apart from the 302km Lucknow-Agra Expressway, the pilot project that actually earned Akhilesh a pat on his back.
However, prominent BJP leaders, such as president Amit Shah, alleged the SP of distributing laptops on the basis of caste and religion. He said, “They will ask your religion and caste first, if that doesn't seem favourable to them, they won't give you a laptop."
Policies started during SP governance in UP also include the unemployment allowance (Rs 1,000 per month) and the senior citizen farmers' pension schemes (Rs 500 per month), free books up to Class 8; two sets of school uniforms free every year for each girl child; private higher education for free for children from families who earn under Rs 5 lakh per annum and a tablet for every student passing Class 10.
To back his claims about education in the state, here’s a word from the UNICEF.
|Mulayam had a bitter battle with son Akhilesh. Photo: Reuters
UNICEF India Annual Status of Education Report, 2015, stated that UP, the most populous state of India, has made impressive gains in primary education in the last half decade. It now claims a 57 per cent literacy rate and 34,000,000 school-going children, which is 93 per cent of the total children in the state.
Also, the party introduced special educational schemes for girls like the Kanya Vidhyadhan and Hamari Beti, Uska Kal, which entail aid of Rs 30,000 for the education of girls studying up to Class 10.
However, in the end, the BJP secured a landmark victory in the state with lion’s share.
Has the perception of the voter in UP changed for good?
When it is about a poll in the state of Uttar Pradesh, the Yadav clan has always got the spotlight. Constituencies such as Farrukhabad and Etawah, the prominent domiciles of the Yadav community, have been strong supporters of Yadav family leaders in the past.
But the results of the 2017 Assembly elections have proved that the Yadav community is no more a votebank for the SP. It is anticipating change for growth as the BJP won Farrukhabad with 93,626 votes. Also, the Etawah seat has been sealed by BJP candidate Sarita Bhadauriya.
The poll results have brought to the fore the altered line of thought in the largest state of India with 403 constituencies and finally, the eventful term served by Akhilesh has concluded with several unanswered questions for the party’s old and young guard.
Even the SP’s promises made in 2017's election manifesto, such as distribution of a smartphone each to 1.4 crore people; Rs 1,000 monthly pension for rural women; 50 per cent fare concession for women in public transport; 24-hour power supply in rural areas; free pressure cookers for poor and hostels for working women; free ghee and milk powder to students of poor families; new expressways; city Metro projects in Agra, Kanpur, Varanasi and Meerut, failed to grab the attention of the masses of the state and hence, the party tasted defeat.
Victory has many fathers, defeat has none.
Who will own responsibility for this doom for the Samajwadi Party?