Would Akhilesh Yadav’s Work Speak Or The Family Feud Takes Its Toll?

Lucknow: The third phase polling which went on peacefully on Sunday is critical for Samajawadi Party (SP) and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav . It is the beginning of Yadav belt which gave maximum seats for SP in 2012 elections. The cities of Lucknow and Kanpur are in this region. Important political personalities like Mulayam Singh Yadav, Akhilesh Yadav, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and BSP chief Mayawati, SP leader Shivpal Yadav had voted in this phase. The voting percentage has gone up compared to the last elections. While the percentage this time is 61.1, it was 59 percent in 2012.

Talking to media persons after exercising the franchise, all the three leaders claimed that their respective parties would do well in this leg. While Akhilesh told media that his party and the Congress alliance has done very well in the first two phases and he is hopeful that even in the third phase the coalition would do well. Rajnath Singh said the BJP would get more than 300 seats and will be forming the government after a gap of fifteen years. Rajnath Singh was the chief minister during 2002 elections in which the BJP lost and SP gained making Mulayam Singh Yadav (MSY) chief minister. Mayawati also claimed that BSP would come back to power with a thumping majority. She was the chief minister during 2012 elections which gave good majority to the SP. MSY who could have taken over as chief minister for the fourth time preferred to transfer the mantle to his son Akhilesh Yadav and he went to Rajya Sabha. It has been the tradition in UP not to repeat the same government. If Akhilesh can retain power, he would be creating history.

The rift in the Yadav family may have its effect in this phase and the future phases. The body language of Akhilesh, MSY and his brother Shivpal was not very reassuring. There are unconfirmed reports that Akhilesh and Shivpal have been harming each other. Shivpal Yadav has criticized the district authorities for the police cane-charge on the voters hinting that it could be at the instigation of Akhilesh, although he did not say in so many words. Akhilesh, on his part, said he wants every SP candidate to win. This phase is crucial for many reasons. First, it is yadav pariwar’s bastion.  There are some very interesting personalities and family angularities involved. Second, the polling percentage has gone up by more than two percent compared to last Vidhan Sabha elections. It means the voters have been motivated to defeat or re-elect Akhilesh. Third, Akhilesh Yadav’s slogan that his work would speak (Kaam Bolta Hai) will be tested in Lucknow since it in the capital that he has invested most in the shape of Metro Rail, Lucknow-Agra Express Highway, Gomti Riverfront and a beautiful park in the name of Jnaneswar Mishra. SP is contesting all the nine seats in Lucknow. The lone Congress MLA who was elected in 2012 elections, Rita Bahuguna Joshi, defected to the BJP. She is opposing MSY’s second daughter-in-law Aparna Yadav in Lucknow Cantonment constituency. Aparna is highly educated, a famous singer and a very dynamic woman. She is the wife of Prateek Singh Yadav, son of MSY and his second wife Sadhana Gupta. Both Akhilesh, his wife Dimple and father MSY have canvassed for her. Rita Bahuguna Joshi, another important family name in UP and Uttarakhand, is not a pushover. But Aparna has greater chances since she would be getting the core Congress vote. Rita is daughter of Hemavati Nandan Bahuguna and sister of Vijay Bahuguna who left Congress and joined the BJP before elections. Three defectors were given BJP tickets in Lucknow city. No wave has been perceptible but Prime Minister Narendra Modi remains the most popular politician attracting huge crowds to his election meetings.

The battle in UP is between two generations. ‘UP Ke Ladke’ (The boys of UP), as Akhilesh and Rahul are called, represent the younger generation while MSY, Mayawati and Modi are from older generations. Young voters are more than fifty percent of the total voters. If they take fancy to younger leader who does not have any anti-incumbency factor to worry, then they would retain Akhilesh in power. This would help the Congress party also in the parliamentary elections in 2019. Had Priyanka canvassed beyond Rae Bareily and Amethi, the young image of the coalition would have made its mark effectively. But the Congress party leadership appears to have decided to leave Akhilesh to his fate after snatching 105 seats from him in the hard bargain before the coalition arrangement was sealed. If the youth image does not work, it will be advantage BJP. If BJP wins UP, there is no stopping Modi who does not have to look back till 2019 when he promised to submit the account of his government’s performance to the people of the country.

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