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4-min read

Party Under Control, Can Akhilesh Control the Yadavland Politics?

As Uttar Pradesh heads for the third phase of crucial assembly polls, in the region of Central UP and parts of Awadh, the real Litmus test awaits Akhilesh Yadav.‎

Pranshu Mishra | CNN-News18

Updated:February 16, 2017, 11:22 PM IST
Rahul Gandhi (left) and Akhilesh Yadav
File photo of Congress President Rahul Gandhi (left) with Samajwadi Party's Akhilesh Yadav. (PTI)

As Uttar Pradesh heads for the third phase of crucial assembly polls, in the region of Central UP and parts of Awadh, the real Litmus test awaits Akhilesh Yadav.‎ An electoral Battle which will decide on his political leadership in the very heartland of backward politics. A region which is also known as the 'Yadavland'.

Question is with the Samajwadi party under his control, can Akhilesh also control the Yadavland Politics. Can SP under Akhilesh, despite the internal feud, repeat the same charisma like in 2012, when it has won 55 out 69 seats going to poll in this phase on 19th of February.

Unlike the earlier 2 phases of poll, in phase 3, the Political Narrative shifts entirely away from Muslim, Jat, and Dalit caste realities of the west UP or predominantly minority politics in region of Rohelkhand. Central UP comprising districts of Kannauj, Etawah, Farukhabad, Hardoi, Mainpuri, Etawah, Auraiya and Kanpur Dehat ‎have largest presence of Backward caste vote.

Though there also is a considerable presence of Dalit population across the districts, with certain strong pockets of Upper castes, at the top of this demographic dominance are the Backward castes. Yadav's being the number one, followed by Lodhi and Shakya.

Since the days of Janta Party in late 70's, and more strongly since the days of Mandal commission, the Backward caste ‎politics has dominated the region. The entire belt emerged as a strong Bastion of Samajwadi party Under Mulayam singh Yadav. Over the Years it was also Mulayam's Younger brother Shivpal, who nurtured the political roots in the region and his hold on the party.

While ‎Yadav's evolved as the core constituency for the Samajwadi party. Other Backward castes kept allying with either the SP or the BJP depending upon the political and electoral calculations. While Dalit had more or less remained intact with the BSP, the Upper caste voters have kept shifting loyalties between these 3 major political players. The congress party virtually has no significant influence in the region.

Political observers feel that this time around its a resurgent BJP which threatens to disturb SP's calculations in the region. Party's strategy of keen focus on non Yadav Backwards and Upper castes can pay dividends. BsP too is trying to Woo a section of OBC vote and the Upper castes.

But Beyond these caste calculations, it's the Samajwadi party's internal feud, which many feel will be a big aspect of elections; specially in this region ‎of Central UP. The internal dynamics and bickering of the party, will definitely have an Impact on the ground. It's on this internal division of the Samajwadi party that political opponents wish to cash upon. While Mayawati had continuously spoken about the 'alleged injustice' done to Shivpal and Mulayam by Akhilesh‎, she had also opened the doors of her party for key Shivpal aides such as Narad Rai and Ambika Chowdhry. BJP also Hopes to reap benefits from the SP's internal divide.

The fact that SP patriarch Mulayam Singh chose to campaign for Shivpal and his younger daughter-in-law Aparna during the elections so far, or Akhilesh choosing to give Shivpal's constituency JaswantNagar a skip, even while campaigning for party candidates on other seats in the region‎, has left no doubt about the feud in minds of the voters. So when immediately after filing his nomination as a SP candidate, Shivpal declared to float a new party post election, the strategy was out in the open. ‎A strategy which, sources say, is to try and cut Akhilesh to size in the very own strong pocket burrow of the Yadav Family.

A leader close to Akhilesh says, "We are aware of the internal threats... but it will not have much impact barring a couple of seats in Etawah. The community has full faith in leadership of Akhilesh Yadav." But independent observers feel otherwise. They say, "Internal feud of SP is definitely at play. It's not only about resentment among a section of Yadavs over alleged insult to Mulayam, but Akhilesh denying tickets to big leaders such as Raghuraj Shakya from Etawah, Pramod Gupta LS from Bidhuna‎, has antogonised many. Pramod is also the brother-in-law of Mulayam's wife Sadhna.

In 2012 assembly polls, SP had swept across all 4 seats in Mainpuri, all 3 each in Etawah, Auriya and Kannuj respectively. It had also won all 6 seats in Barabanki district.‎ Congress, the SP's alliance partner in this election could, however, win just 1 seat each in Kanpur and Lucknow. BJP had won on 5 seats while 6 seats had gone to the BSP. Kanpur city and state capital Lucknow also go to polls in Phase 3.

No doubt it's an area where SP as of now stands out as a formidable force. Akhilesh's leadership will be at the biggest test. All eyes will be on the incumbent UP chief minister Akhilesh Yadav now. Can he script the same success story ‎like that of his father in the heartland of SP's politics? Only the time will tell.

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| Edited by: Mirza Arif Beg
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