States & UTs

    Wooing Akhilesh: Film's Trailer Looks Good, But Where's The Script?

    The Hawk
    May1/ 2023


    Lucknow: When 15 per cent of the Yadavs (of the total OBC population) join hands with 9 per cent Kurmis and 22 per cent Muslims, mathematics says that the results will be magical.

    This is what Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Akhilesh Yadav believes will happen and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar hopes it will. The joining of the SP with the JD(U) and RJD may not alter the politics of Uttar Pradesh but it will be definitely be a step in the direction of opposition unity.

    The JD(U) and RJD have not had much of a presence in Uttar Pradesh in the past though both parties have struggled to find a foothold.

    They parties have not won even a single seat in the state till now.

    The SP has retained its monopoly on the Yadavs who constitute the biggest vote bank among OBCs, without allowing the RLD to make an entry here.

    The JD(U), which has a base among Kurmis, has not made much impact in the state either, even though it has influence in some districts of eastern Uttar Pradesh.

    The SP touted late Beni Prasad Varma as its tallest Kurmi leader and after his demise, the Apna Dal managed to wean away Kurmis to the BJP-led alliance. The Apna Dal, led by Union Minister Anupriya Patel, has been growing from strength to strength since the past one decade, leaving virtually no room for the JD(U).

    Ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, both SP and JD(U) apparently feel the need to expand their electoral base.

    After the demise of SP supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav last year, Akhilesh Yadav has realised that he needs more friends than foes to survive against the Modi-led BJP government in the Centre. The JD(U) also needs allies to take on the BJP and survive the next elections in Bihar.

    The coming together of the SP and JD(U) will have a more psychological impact then a real one because both parties have no arguable presence in each other's states.

    Besides, the two leaders did not give out any details of the meetings except that "we will stand together".

    "In fact, this is why parties like SP, JD(U), TMC are joining hands because they know that these allies will not poach on their territories. Their unity will give them psychological strength and, perhaps, help in evolving a joint strategy to fight against the BJP in 2024," said political analyst R.K. Singh.

    "They will hold rallies in each other's states, hold joint press conference and stand behind each other when ED, CBI come calling but nothing beyond that."

    He added that the trailer of the opposition unity seemed fantastic but the actual "film" did not have a script yet.

    The JD(U) has appointed Dhananjay Singh, former MP from the Jaunpur Lok Sabha seat, as the party's national general secretary.

    Dhananjay Singh had contested the 2022 Assembly election unsuccessfully from the Malhani seat, located in Jaunpur.

    However, he an influential leader in the region and with some political support, he could manage a win in 2024. His wife Srikala Reddy is the zila panchayat chairman in Jaunpur.

    The analyst said: "We are a political party and we will contest the Lok Sabha elections in Uttar Pradesh this time. Nitish Kumar is now the longest serving Chief Minister and his charisma has not waned over the years."

    He said that the party would start the process of identifying seats and prospective candidates soon and face elections with full preparedness.

    JD(U) had fielded candidates from 27 Assembly seats in the 2022 Uttar Pradesh polls after alliance talks with the BJP failed.

    However, they failed to open their account, polling only 0.11 per cent of the vote share.

    The recent meeting between Akhilesh and Nitish has created a buzz in political circles in Uttar Pradesh -- but not enough to disturb the BJP.

    BJP spokesman Rakesh Tripathi said: "Nitish and Akhilesh are both unreliable and the meetings are designed only for photo opportunities. There is nothing substantial in this opposition unity and everyone knows it."