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From family to foes to friends again; Will the “Uncle-Nephew” combo work in UP

Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav announced a pre-poll alliance with his uncle Shivpal Yadav’s party Paragtisheel Samajwadi Party Lohia (PSPL) yesterday marking an end to a family feud that began in 2016 during the run-up to the 2017 Vidhan elections.

The differences between the two heavyweights began when Akhilesh Yadav expelled Deepak Singhal, who was a minister in the then-UP cabinet and was also a close friend of Shivpal Yadav. This act of the SP supremo was considered to be an act against his uncle and the following day the then SP chief and Akhilesh Yadav’s father, Mulayam Singh, replaced his own son with Shivpal Yadav as the state’s party chief which came out as a huge shock to the state CM Akhilesh Yadav. In retaliation to this. Akhilesh Yadav then stripped Shivpal Yadav off the ministerial berths that he had been holding in the state government which widened the rift in the family further. As a result Shivpal Yadav, along with his wife and his son, resigned from all the party posts which they were holding and broke away to give birth to their own political party “Pragatisheel Samajwadi Party Lohia”.

It is important to note that both these political parties did not perform well during the last Vidhan Sabha elections of the state in 2017 and also the general elections of 2019.  In the aftermath of their split, during the 2017 Vidhan Sabha elections, the SP which had a stronghold in the Etawah-Kannauj-Mainpuri-Auriya belt lost owing to the split in the Yadav votes. Interestingly, on the other hand, Shivpal Yadav won the family’s home seat of Jaswantnagar from Etawah by a margin of 53,000 votes. Both the SP and the PSPL lost the other seats from this belt to the BJP, which came out as big winners owing to the differences in the Yadav family. The consequences of the split in the SP were visible in the 2019 LS elections as well when the party lost from Firozabad, with Shivpal Yadav playing the spoiler from here cutting the votes of the SP and paving the way for the BJP to win from here. Both the SP and the PSPL emerged as losers from here, SP being the bigger one as Firozabad was their stronghold since 2009.

So now that foes have become friends, will they wrest back the state from the grand and mighty BJP? The answer to this question may look complex at the moment as we are yet to know about the seat-sharing method which will be adopted by the two but minus this factor, the chances of these two parties winning look bleak. Apart from the family reunion, Akhilesh Yadav has carefully stitched an alliance between his party, the Suheledev Bhartiya Samaj Party, the Rashtriya Lok Dal, and the Mahan Dal, hoping to put an end to the BJP wave in the state and it will be interesting to see how this alliance will fold out. From the SP and their alliance partners’ perspective, yes, the Yadav votes will not be divided during this time around and the possibility of candidates being denied tickets by SP contesting under PSPL tickets also might be prevented, which will, in turn, reduce any chances of a rift in the alliance but the million-dollar question still remains, will this grand alliance be able to dent the immense popularity of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister Yogi in the state? The alliance between the SP, the PSPL, the RLD, and other regional parties in the state may bring down BJP’s vote share in the north Indian state but there is a feeling that these elections will be fought on merit rather than the caste census and BJP’s report card from here looks fairly good compared to that of the previous government. Yes, the BJP’s UP government has attracted much criticism during their tenure but there is a sense of belief which the people have in the BJP in the state whereas the same sense of belief is absent when it concerns the other two or any other political party in the state for that matter.

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