Will field Mu­layam as LS can­di­date of my out­fit: Shiv­pal

Hindustan Times (Gurugram) - - Htnation - (With in­puts from Ran­jan in Bhopal, Ritesh Mishra in Raipur and Ur­vashi Dev Rawal in Jaipur) HT Correspondent let­ters@hin­dus­tan­times.com ■

Rebel Sa­ma­jwadi Party (SP) leader Shiv­pal Ya­dav on Satur­day said he will field his el­der brother and SP Pa­tri­arch Mu­layam Singh Ya­dav as the can­di­date of his Sa­ma­jwadi Sec­u­lar Mor­cha (SSM) for the Main­puri Lok Sabha seat in the 2019 elec­tions.

Shiv­pal’s an­nounce­ment comes against the back­drop of SP chief Akhilesh Ya­dav hint­ing on sev­eral oc­ca­sions that Mu­layam would con­test the up­com­ing gen­eral elec­tions on an SP ticket. Shiv­pal and Akhilesh have been en­gaged in a bit­ter fam­ily feud for over two years now. “If ne­taji (Mu­layam) agrees, then he will be made the national pres­i­dent of the mor­cha,” Shiv­pal said.

Shiv­pal, who floated the SSM last month, said the pro­posed al­liance be­tween the Sa­ma­jwadi Party (SP) and the Bahu­jan Sa­maj Party (BSP) ahead of next year’s Lok Sabha polls should in­clude his out­fit too.

“The mor­cha can win 20 to 30 seats in the Lok Sabha polls. If the (SP-BSP) al­liance does not in­clude the mor­cha, it (mor­cha) will con­test on all 80 seats in UP,” Shiv­pal said to me­dia at his Lucknow house.

Shiv­pal also said he will soon ap­ply to the Elec­tion Com­mis­sion of In­dia (ECI) to reg­is­ter a new party, its name, flag, and seek an elec­tion sym­bol.

Shiv­pal Singh Ya­dav, younger brother of Sa­ma­jwadi Party (SP) pa­tri­arch Mu­layam Singh Ya­dav, had been sulk­ing for about two years. Ear­lier this month, as the na­tion edged closer to the 2019 Lok Sabha elec­tions, he de­cided to vir­tu­ally split the party, which his brother formed in 1992 and placed at the cen­trestage of pol­i­tics in Ut­tar Pradesh, by an­nounc­ing the for­ma­tion of a plat­form he in­tends to use to bring like-minded po­lit­i­cal groups to­gether.

Ut­tar Pradesh’s rul­ing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is seen by ob­servers to have ex­tended tacit sup­port to Shiv­pal , 63, the es­tranged un­cle of Mualayam Singh’s son and for­mer chief min­is­ter Akhilesh Ya­dav. Shiv­pal’s for­ma­tion of the Sa­ma­jwadi Sec­u­lar Mor­cha is op­por­tune for the BJP, which has been try­ing to forge caste-based tie-ups ahead of the gen­eral elec­tion to counter a grand al­liance of op­po­si­tion par­ties, no­tably the SP and Mayawati’s Bahu­jan Sa­maj Party (BSP).

The party’s Ut­tar Pradesh lead­ers, headed by chief min­is­ter Yogi Adityanath, are play­ing up the fam­ily feud, at­tack­ing SP chief, Akhilesh Ya­dav, 45, whose el­e­va­tion to the party’s pres­i­dency in 2017 had trig­gered a gen­er­a­tional shift in the SP. He poses a big­ger chal­lenge to the BJP than Shiv­pal does.

Log­i­cally speak­ing, the vir­tual split in the SP weak­ens Akhilesh and his claim on seats dur­ing seat-shar­ing talks with po­ten­tial poll part­ners. The BJP is all smiles; even a slight dent in the Ya­dav vote bank can turn the ta­bles on the SP in Ya­dav-dom­i­nated con­stituen­cies. How?

Com­pletely marginalised in the BJP dis­pen­sa­tion, the Ya­davs, along with the Jatavs (BSP chief Mayawati’s com­mit­ted vot­ers) have been gear­ing up to avenge their hu­mil­i­a­tion in the 2019 gen­eral elec­tions.

Although there has been no love lost be­tween the Jatavs and Ya­davs since a mid-1990s po­lit­i­cal brawl, fear of get­ting marginalised in the state’s pol­i­tics by a resur­gent BJP has com­pelled the two com­mu­ni­ties to come to­gether. The suc­cess of their ex­per­i­ment in the Go­rakh­pur, Kairana and Phulpur Lok Sabha by­polls boosted their con­fi­dence.

Shiv­pal can play spoil­sport in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls in Ut­tar Pradesh, ex­pected to be closely con­tested, in which ev­ery vote will have a huge value. It would be ad­van­tage BJP.

Ac­cord­ing to a po­lit­i­cal ex­pert, the BJP’s strat­egy is clear: if it can­not win over the Ya­davs, it can break them (read vote bank). And if it can­not win over Mayawati, it can wean away her vot­ers by of­fer­ing them sops.

At the end of the day, it is caste that clinches seats in UP.

Both in the 2014 Lok Sabha and the 2017 Vid­han Sabha elec­tions, the BJP was rid­ing an un­prece­dented wave in favour of Naren­dra Modi. Yet, the party high com­mand had to sew up elec­toral al­liances, es­pe­cially in back­ward caste dom­i­nated east­ern UP which, bar­ring a few districts like Aza­m­garh, Mau and Varanasi, has a smaller Mus­lim pop­u­la­tion than western UP. Thus caste and not com­mu­nal po­lar­i­sa­tion de­cides poll out­comes.

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