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In SP-BSP Alliance Stitched Together by Akhilesh Yadav, a Message for Rahul Gandhi and MK Stalin

The most striking aspect of Gorakhpur and Phulpur victories has been the selection of candidates aimed to disrupt the BJP’s caste calculus in the Hindi heartland.

Sumit Pande | News18.com

Updated:March 15, 2018, 3:03 PM IST
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In SP-BSP Alliance Stitched Together by Akhilesh Yadav, a Message for Rahul Gandhi and MK Stalin
Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav addressing a press conference on March 15 after his party's success in UP bypolls.
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New Delhi: All along the protracted family feud that played out like a soap opera in the Samajwadi Party last year and a year before that, the party’s Muslim face and Rampur strongman Azam Khan maintained a low profile.

In the show of strength between chacha Shivpal and bhatija Akhilesh, an otherwise boisterous Azam was conspicuously absent from the picture for almost six months.

On Wednesday, however, Azam Khan arrived at the SP office on Lucknow’s Vikramaditya Marg well in time to be seated on the right of Akhilesh Yadav, as the former UP chief minister addressed media after inflicting a stunning defeat on the BJP with BSP’s help.

In politics, nothing succeeds like success. And in electoral politics, winning elections is the only way to acquire political legitimacy. Nothing, not pedigree, not oratorical skills and not even the best of media management can make a leader out of a politician. By showing remarkable flexibility in stitching an alliance with Mayawati and capitalising it with huge upsets this week, Akhilesh Yadav has settled the leadership issue in the SP once and for all.

This is a feat that has eluded several heirs apparent across India. From Rahul Gandhi in the Congress to MK Stalin in the DMK, the elusive electoral success has kept them from being seen as the natural leader of their respective parties.

In far-reaching ramifications on national politics, Akhilesh has set the tone for the 2019 General Elections.

In the last one month, Akhilesh has moved fast to settle even the potential leadership imbalance within the party. Ram Gopal Yadav’s confidant Naresh Agarwal was denied Rajya Sabha nomination, following which the latter joined the BJP. And in a move aimed at striking intra-family detente, there are indications that a sulking Shivpal Yadav may shift base to Delhi after the next Lok Sabha elections.

But the most striking aspect of Gorakhpur and Phulpur victories has been the selection of candidates aimed to disrupt the BJP’s caste calculus in the Hindi heartland.

In aligning for the bypolls, both SP and BSP, by design, fielded OBC candidates to enhance the caste canvas.

In Gorakhpur, son of Nishaad Party chief was fielded on SP ticket to mobilse more than 3 lakh voters from the community in the constituency.

Nishaad Party is a local political outfit whose area of influence is limited to a dozen districts in Poorvanchal. In Phupur, SP fielded a Kurmi candidate who, despite mafia don Ateeq Ahmed, won polling more than 40 thousand votes.

It is highly likely this alliance will once again be tested in Kairana LS bypolls in Western UP for which elections are due.

Mayawati contested her first election from Kairana. BSP is likely to contest the seat with SP support.

The elections will test both BJP’s mettle in western UP and also SP’s ability to transfer its votes to the BSP in 2019 general elections.
| Edited by: Ashutosh Tripathi
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