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Mayawati's Re-entry to Rajya Sabha is Now Impossible, For Akhilesh It's The Only Hope

A municipal corporation employee removes banner posters of Uttar Pradesh chief minister, Akhilesh Yadav (L) and Mayawati (R).

A municipal corporation employee removes banner posters of Uttar Pradesh chief minister, Akhilesh Yadav (L) and Mayawati (R).

Victory and defeat may be part of politics, but at times a poll debacle can threaten the very career of a big leader at least in the short run.

Lucknow: Victory and defeat may be part of politics, but at times a poll debacle can threaten the very career of a big leader at least in the short run.

Bahujan Samaj Party's Mayawati and Samajwadi Party's Akhilesh Yadav face a similar situation after the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections. Their parties have been humiliated to the extent it threatens their immediate political relevance.

The defeat also dashed BSP chief Mayawati's hopes of another term in the Rajya Sabha when her present one gets over in April next year.

For Akhilesh on the other hand, going to Rajya Sabha is the best option as currently he is just a member of the Legislative Council. But for that he will have to wait till April next year.

Mayawati had shifted to Rajya sabha in 2012 after losing the state to Samajwadi party. As a chief minister she had been a member of the state legislative council, But following her party's defeat she had resigned from the council and entered Rajya sabha.

It was an easy task then since BSP had 87 MLAs, well above the electoral college provision for Rajya sabha polls. This time, with just 19 MLAs, the situation is different. Even getting into UP legislative council is near impossible, with her current strength in the Vidhan Sabha.

How Mayawati meets this challenge could be of interest. Will she get together with the rival SP, like the JD (U) and RJD did in Bihar? Together the two parties can send 2 MPs' to Rajya Sabha. Or, will she contest the 2019 Lok Sabha polls‎?

SP national president Akhilesh Yadav would face a similar predicament. He is reduced to just 41 out of 403 seats in a state he ruled for five years. Yes, his party has a majority in the upper house with 67 out of 100, but that hardly makes any impact when BJP has a more than a two third majority in Vidhan Sabha.

Top SP sources say the best way out for Akhilesh is to resign from Legislative Council and move to Rajya Sabha, a move more suitable for a leader of national stature. For that, he will have to wait till April 2018 when 10 RS seats fall vacant.

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar's RS seat may fall vacant in the near future as he shifts to Goa as chief minister. But given BJP's brute majority in UP, it will clinch it.

Election to Rajya Sabha should not be a challenge for Akhilesh, sources say, despite the challenge posed to his leadership by Uncle Shivpal Yadav. The post of leader of opposition in Vidhan sabha is most likely to go to either Shivpal or Azam Khan, both having won despite the saffron wave.

While Akhilesh would be more keen on Azam getting the lead role, party patriarch Mulayam Singh is likely to put his weight behind Shivpal. The party can also decide against putting up Azam because it would only fuel the existing perception of minority appeasement.

Possibilities of Akhilesh replacing old guard Ahamad Hassan as leader of opposition in Legislative Council are remote. The post does not have the gravitas for accommodating a former chief minister and party national president.

It would be interesting to watch whether the post of national president comes back to Mulayam singh. As a close Mulayam loyalist remembers, Akhilesh himself had earlier said he wished to hold on to the post for just three months till the polls were over.

Now that the polls are over and the party has suffered its worst defeat, will Akhilesh resign and make way for his father? Mulayam loyalists have already started raising the demand.

Party MLC Madhukar Jaitley told News 18, "Chief Minister should take the responsibility for the defeat. It's high time Mulayam Singh took back the control of the party."

That, will depend a lot on Mulayam himself. Will he‎ stand by his son in this hour of crisis, or will he side with his son's opponents? Despite being humiliated, Akhilesh is still the face and future of the party. Cornering him entirely is neither possible nor wise, and Mulayam is more likely to explore a middle ground.

This could be a likely family picture: Mulayam as national president, Akhilesh as its face and Shivpal as the key architect in the state. A serious attempt at mutual co existence is likely to be made and the party will explore the possibility of a larger unified opposition well ahead of the 2019 general elections.

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