BJP aims to breach Mulayam’s fortress as Akhilesh and Shivpal lock horns

By Faisal Fareed,

It would not be wrong to say that the Samajwadi Party, despite all its infighting and power struggles, has a strong presence in Uttar Pradesh. But four districts: Etawah, Auraiyya, Farrukhabad and Kannauj remain the fortress of the party, and for the past three decades politics in this region has circled around Mulayam Singh Yadav.

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The Yadav chieftain is regarded as Netaji for all, Dadda by people of his age group and as Mantri Ji by few who were his supporters since his initial journey in politics. Though Mulayam lives in Saifai village, his relatives are spread across all these districts.

Like any other politician who wants to secure their fortress, Mulayam too has done a lot for the region. The area which was once known for Chambal bandits now boasts of a super-speciality Medical Centre, half a dozen guest houses, four-lane roads, several public schools, supermarket on lines of Connaught Place in New Delhi, and bridges connecting every nook and corner etc. In Saifai, there is a saying that every family has got one member who is in government job, a sign of safety and security in UP. The sign of Men at Work is visible in the region as new projects are started and old one renovated every time SP came to power in the state.

For all these reason and many more, Mulayam always remained most acceptable choice among the people. Mulayam too has developed personal relations with most of the people of the region.

But nearly four decades after Mulayam’s baptism in politics, the equation of Yadav Land is witnessing a change in 2017. Many efforts were made but once Mulayam struck chord in the region it became his fortress.

In 2014, it was shaken after Modi’s meeting in Bharthana. At that time, many Yadavs reached Modi’s meeting to listen and the result was that the BJP defeated SP in Etawah. Mulayam’s appeal that it will send wrong message in the country if SP is defeated was overlooked.

This time again, the BJP is playing very smartly in the region. Presently, all 13 seats of these districts are with SP. The first step is Modi’s mentioning incident of attack on Mulayam during Kannauj meeting. It started a debate on Congress alliance with SP among Yadavs.

BJP has not become active suddenly in the region but preparations were going on for quite some time. RSS held camp in Etawah nearly six months ago and BJP’s national president Amit Shah held a workers’ camp. Another master stroke was played with Subrat Pathak being appointed as state president of BJP’s Yuva Morcha. Pathak had contested against Dimple Yadav from Kannauj and has lost narrowly. Earlier, Modi’s rally was to be held in Auraiyya but later shifted to Gursahayganj in Kannauj and Modi attacked on Mulayam during his meeting. Modi also met BJP candidates in the region and encouraged them.

It will not be surprising if some shocking results come out in this election.

Meanwhile, Akhilesh Yadav too has understood the harsh reality in the region. In these region, Akhilesh is addressing rallies in every assembly seat. After rallies in Auraiyya, Farrukhabad and Kannauj, he has now stepped in Etawah even as he avoids Jaswantnagar from where Shivpal is contesting. Akhilesh is also pouring his heart out. For him, Mulayam’s pride is main concern. He has invoked old relations and also tried to attack those who betrayed him. His words that he has saved Cycle symbol and now it is the duty of people to make it run fast. Incidentally, Shivpal’s name is missing from his speeches. There are veiled remarks that he knows who has earned in Etawah through contracts.

Shivpal on the other hand is terming the election as Dharmyudh. For the first time he is confined to Jaswantnagar seat only. The confidence and body language is different. With folded hands he says—those who do not respect elders, what can be done for them. His appeal to increase his victory margin. Never in past elections, Shivpal moved door to door but this time he is making rounds of whole constituency. There are Shivpal’s supporters who have formed Mulayam Ke Log and are with him in the election.

Mulayam too has ventured but has not addressed any meetings except in Jaswantnagar. Akhilesh’s name is missing in his speeches and he is batting for Shivpal.

For the first time cracks are visible in Yadav Land with the family members now divided over their support. After four decades any outcome is expected from the region.