The dismal performance of the Samajwadi Party in the recently concluded municipal elections has put Samajwadi president Akhilesh Yadav in a spot.
The Samajwadi Party not only lost all the 16 mayoral posts, but also lost its deposit in nine out of 16 seats.
More importantly, the party suffered serious reverses in its bastion, including Ferozabad and Kannauj.
Besides, the election results indicate a decisive shift in Muslim votes towards the BSP, which won Aligarh and Meerut seats—both having a substantial Muslim votes.
If the trend consolidates, the Samajwadi Party is bound to lose more ground in the 2019 Lok Sabha and then the 2022 Assembly elections in UP.
Party leaders, on condition of anonymity, are getting vocal and blame Akhilesh Yadav for the debacle. As party president, Akhilesh Yadav did not campaign at all for his party candidates and neither did he ask other leaders to campaign.
“What does one do with a party that fields candidates but does not campaign? Were we deliberately giving a walkover to the BJP?” asked a party veteran.
An SP MLA said, “Akhilesh Yadav is surrounded by a coterie of leaders who have no ground support and they are giving him wrong advice. If the party president refuses to campaign for his candidates, what message is he sending out? Moreover, none of the senior leaders were asked to campaign and the candidates were left on their own”.
Shivpal Yadav, Akhilesh’s estranged uncle, said, “Allegation of rigged EVMs is baseless. If the party lost the elections then who is to blame? Who selected the candidates and who decided the campaign?”
Interestingly, Mulayam Singh Yadav did not campaign for the party and neither did Shivpal Yadav. In fact, Shivpal Yadav openly supported an independent candidate Sunil Jolly for the Jaswantnagar Palika Parishad seat and ensured his victory. Sunil Jolly was in SP, but had been denied ticket by Akhilesh Yadav.
Another SP legislator said that the party’s defeat in districts represented by top leaders should also be debated upon. “The family war has already taken its toll on the morale of party workers and then the indifferent attitude of party president has worsened the situation. The selection of candidates was also arbitrary and none of the party workers knew who was Meera Vardhan (candidate for Lucknow mayor) or when did she join the party.”
The MLAs want the party leadership to “actively discuss” the party’s health with the workers and take steps to revive it.
“If the party continues to remains in a state of slumber, we have no hopes for 2019 general elections. Akhilesh Yadav should consult the senior party leaders and not just rely on his coterie,” said a former SP minister.
State SP president Naresh Uttam blamed the “misuse of state machinery” for the BJP’s victory.
Akhilesh Yadav, meanwhile, refused to react to the dismal performance of his party in the municipal elections. However, he tweeted on Saturday that the “BJP has only won 15% seats in ballot paper areas and 46% in EVM areas.”