How Akhilesh cycled Samajwadi Party to power in UP
By Rajeev Sharma
NEW DELHI: The Samajwadi Party’s stupendous success in Uttar Pradesh has thrown up a new Young Turk on the political horizon: SP supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav’s son Akhilesh Yadav who virtually single-handedly cycled the party to a clear majority with his ‘high risk and new thinking’ strategy.
SP sources said that Akhilesh offered more empowerment to various sections within and Other Backward Classes and Muslim Backward Castes than his father did and made a significant improvement upon his father's political mobilisation among the Yadav-Muslim axis. Akhilesh reduced the number of Yadav candidates and dramatically raised the number of Brahmins, Thakurs and Muslims in the election ring. Equally importantly, he transformed the SP's image from the erstwhile ‘party of musclemen’ and made it appealing to the youth with the promise of better law and order and zero-tolerance for criminals.
Akhilesh shook off the anti-English old guard witnin the party and promised a free laptop to all students who complete school and a Tablet to those who pass out 10th class and also got English education included in the party manifesto. As recently as in 2009 Lok Sabha election manifesto, Mulayam Singh had stiffly opposed the English education and computers.
Like Rahul Gandhi, Akhilesh also launched his bus yatra ‘Samaj Kranti Rath’ and covered more than 250 assemblies by bus and the remaining through helicopter. Sources said Akhilesh used to minutely discuss with his father all aspects of campaigning at the end of the day. “Akhilesh walked a political tightrope given his uneasy relationship with his uncles Shivpal Yadav, who was Leader of the Opposition in the outgoing assembly and Ram Gopal Yadav,” a young SP leader in the inner coterie of Akhilesh told this correspondent on March 6, 2012.
Akhilesh used to have a running feud with his uncles over a large number of issues, particularly over the selection of candidates on which Akhilesh had an upper hand and went beyond caste mobilisation, he said. The massive mandate for SP will inevitably lead to new power equations within the party and Akhilesh Yadav has emerged as the new fulcrum, political watchers said.