Advantage BJP in Uttar Pradesh

The father versus son fight for control of the Samajwadi Party on the eve of the assembly polls is now out in the open with the father expelling his chief minister son from the party. Unless something miraculous happens the Samajwadi Party is heading for a vertical split. Mulayam Singh’s son and the incumbent chief minister Mulayam had earlier refused to name his son as the next chief minister. Akhilesh has decided to field his candidates as independents to fight the party’s official nominees. So Uttar Pradesh will see a four-cornered contest between the BSP, the SP, the SP rebels and the BJP. This is likely to better the chances of the BJP.

The Congress has gradually been marginalized in the UP politics but it still retains some support among the Dalits who constitute about one-fifth of the electorate. As Dalits form the main vote bank of Mayawati, she is not at all willing to come to any seat adjustment with the Congress. The Congress has already queered the pitch for itself by projecting Sheila Dixit, a Brahmin, as its chief ministerial candidate. It will alienate both Dalit and Muslim voters. The BJP is now expected to make a determined bid to woo the Dalits. They will be a deciding factor. However a Congress-Akhilesh understanding will be a shot in the arms for the former.

Winning the UP elections is a matter of life and death for the BJP. If it can capture UP, its return to power at the Centre for the second time in 2019 will be easier. The split in its main rival, the SP, will put the BJP on a more advantageous position vis-à-vis SP. How far the demonetization issue will figure in the UP election campaign and influence poll results is a moot question. The cast and community permutations and combinations always play a big role in determining poll results in UP. If Mayawati can win over Dalit and Muslim votes in a big way, she may get a tenuous majority. Or it will be a hung House. What baffles comprehension is why Mulayam Singh Yadav has risked losing power by taking an inflexible stand against his son. It is a gamble he has gone in for. If it succeeds, his supremacy in the party and acceptability to the people will be proved. If he fails it will put a question mark on his political future.

Monday, 2 January, 2017