Reality is beginning to catch up with Samajwadi Party leader Akhilesh Yadav after the high he has experienced over the past couple of weeks. Buoyed by BJP ministers and MLAs defecting to his party, he had begun to behave as though he had already been elected Chief Minister of UP. But it has not been a one-way street, as his sister-in-law, Aparna Yadav, was only the latest to don the BJP colours on Wednesday. Also, doubts are being raised by his own party members about the wisdom of the alliances he has made and those he has rejected. There is discontent within Jayant Chaudhary followers at several SP candidates contesting on the RJD symbol in some constituencies of Western UP. This pattern has existed in the past, also. Alliances made by the SP with important parties like the BSP and Congress have failed because of the singularly self-serving attitude of its voters. While the allies’ votes were transferred to the SP, the reverse did not happen. This led to serious and long term damage to these parties. It is no wonder that, despite appeals from some, mostly Muslim, leaders, these parties have shied away, this time, from tying up with the SP. Problems have also emerged within the SP as tickets are being given to new entrants at the cost of long time supporters.
The initial narrative that the OBCs and other sections are abandoning the BJP is also undergoing a correction. As polling day nears, the populace is also bound to be polarised by the reckless manner in which SP is granting tickets to big time criminals without regard for the consequences.
In contrast, the Congress decision, initially, to find its own path was appreciated by many for its ‘long term’ ideological perspective. However, the party seems to have panicked somewhat and, in the bid for Muslim votes, has recruited some unsavoury characters. This has immediately alienated public opinion.
Thus far, the BSP has been described as a ‘non-starter’ as Supremo Mayawati seems to be unsure of her approach. It has been established over the years that the party’s voters have mostly opted for the BJP as their second choice to prevent more aggressive and less inclusive forces from taking power – for which read the Samajwadi Party support base. Akhilesh Yadav’s threatening approach, thus far, has not assuaged their fears. His adopting a milder attitude, now, may prove a little bit too late.