The enemy within

On February 21, after the Sam­ajwadi Party-Bahujan Samaj Party seat-sharing declaration, Mulayam Singh Yadav told party workers in Lucknow, Apni party ke log hi party ko khatam kar rahe hain. The alliance will contest 75 Lok Sabha seats out of 80, with the SP contesting 37, one less than partner BSP after party presid­ent Akhilesh Yadav gifted one of their seats to Ajit Singh’s Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD). The RLD will contest three seats, leaving two, Rae Bareli and Amethi, for the Congress.

The SP will be challenging Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union home minister Rajnath Singh in the key constituencies of Varanasi and Lucknow. The party also has Gorakhpur and Phulpur, where it defeated the BJP in the 2018 bypolls.

But it’ll be the 43 seats the SP is not contesting that will be a challenge for Akhilesh. Kanpur University professor Manoj Kumar says, In these 43 seats, local SP leaders were hoping for a ticket. They will leave the party now and join Mulayam’s brother Shivpal’s new outfit. It’s already happening. Shiv Kumar Beria, a Mula­yam aide and ex-minister, is a senior leader from Kanpur Dehat. With the seat going to BSP, he has joined Shivpal’s Pragatisheel Samajwadi Party (Lohiya). Beria predicts more senior SP leaders will leave in the coming days.

Analysts see a clear split emerging in Lok Sabha seats domina­ted by the Yadavs, with senior leaders siding with Mulayam-Shivpal; the young Turks look to Akhilesh. PSP(L) spokesperson Deepak Misra says, In our districts, the sympathy is for Mulayam-Shivpal; Akhilesh sidelined both leaders.

Shivpal has also talked to the Congress’s UP East in-charge Priya­nka Gandhi. The two leaders have agreed on an alliance, with votes to be shared in 10 Yadav-dominated LS seats. Political analyst Dr Ajit Kumar feels the alliance will affect the SP’s chances in at least 15 seats in central and east UP.


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