If there was such a thing as Masters in Image Management, then Akhilesh certainly graduated in ‘first class with distinction’. Having realized, he stood a very little chance in UP, Akhilesh devised a master plan to hog limelight and thereby enhancing his image. It’s not unknown that SP had nothing to portray in terms of its 5 years of rule. It has often been criticized for its ‘goon’ rule. This is exactly where Akhilesh ruffled domestic (synonymous with ‘party’) feathers only to make a truce with the party patriarch at the end, and in the killed several birds in one shot. For one, grabbed much needed media limelight. Akhilesh hogged headlines all day for several consecutive days starting from his huff with uncle Shivpal to emerging victorious over party symbol. He flexed his ‘youth icon’ muscles to prove to Mulayam that it’s time for him to take a back seat and projected himself as the new chief ministerial candidate and ‘Yadav’ vanguard. In the process he also ensured to gain sympathy from several anti-SP sections and gained their confidence. He must be congratulated for executing this plan seamlessly and to perfection.
In this process, he was also at loggerheads with Mulayam in blocking any alliance with Quami Ekta Dal, although his uncle, Shivpal was totally in favor of merger of Quami into Samajwadi party. And this is exactly where the pari’war’ began and family feud spiraled out of control. Many others factor like Amar Singh affected the ‘baap beta’ bonding. Apparently realizing he has experience factor on his side, Mulayam tried to scare Akhilesh off by removing him and his mentor, Ramgopal Yadav from the party. Little did he know that Akhilesh had a ‘pocket aces’ up his sleeve. At a separate convention, Akhilesh was anointed as party president, and the rest of the story is history (his ’story’). After executing the ‘domestic’ part of the plan, it was time to implement ‘public’ part of the plan.
Public memory has often been ridiculed being akin to Aamir Khan’s role in Ghajini. Akhilesh knows this very well and has been chanting ‘Development’ mantra for a few months now. Akhilesh and Mulayam have been riding the electoral horse, with Akhilesh on the development side and Mulayam on the ‘secular’ side. However, after realizing polarization (not development) is the solution for a severely caste ridden state like Uttar Pradesh, Akhilesh threw an electoral bait at Congress and the latter has been eagerly waiting for his overtures. Akhilesh’s and Rahul Gandhi’s electoral bonhomie is not unknown. This came as a blessing in disguise to a politically irrelevant Congress. If not for this alliance, it would have been an arduous task for Raj Babbar, the PCC chief for Uttar Pradesh to prove party’s mettle. This is where the high command must have thought ‘If wishes were horses, beggars would ride’ and pounced on the opportunity. Even here, Akhilesh showed his prowess, by denying congress the seats it asked for and dilly-dallying the alliance, thereby staying in limelight and showing congress its place, that of a subdued junior partner. Finally, Congress accepted Samajwadi party’s froideur.
Role of BSP: Bahujan Samaj Party supremo, Mayawati should not be underestimated. In caste ridden UP, she could always emerge as a dark horse. However, it would not be as easy as it was before the SP split. An astute politician which she is, she started attracting Muslim votes much ahead in the game. Of course, as expected, it would have been preposterous of her not to play the ‘DM’ (Dalit – Muslim) card. As per IndiaTV report, the fact that over a hundred crores have been deposited into her account within 7 days of demonetization deserves a mention here. (to my readers, not voters). Now that congress joined the alliance with SP, it would be difficult, if not impossible for her to consolidate all the minority eggs into BSP basket.
Above said, biggest sufferer in this entire political battle, as always, would be Muslims. Muslim community has always been used a tentative vote bank. This is a shame, but oh well, that is electoral politics. In this context, it can be safely assumed that the landmark judgment of Honorable Supreme Court would be conveniently put on backburner. Politically speaking, it would be BJP’s applecart which would be upset. Amit Shah, a master strategist, knows very well that ‘development’ as a poll plank would not quench UP’s insatiable caste and religious thirst. All Shah’s moves so far would have resulted in a fait accompli. Lack of a Chief Ministerial name would add to his woes. A larger-than-life Modi’s image only might not serve the purpose, unless he has an ace in the hole. Amidst all this, Akhilesh deserves a pat on his ‘youthful’ back for successfully diverting the developmental agenda and augmenting his image. But again, voters always surprise political pundits with their acumen! Go UP!