Akhilesh has tough going in Mulayam turf

Polls 2017: SP detractors to make party patron's absence an issue

Akhilesh has tough going in Mulayam turf

In 2014 Lok Sabha polls, Samajwadi Party (SP) supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav had declared that Etawah (Mulayam’s native district) was his “heart” and Azamgarh its “beat”.

Mulayam had then filed his nomination from Azamgarh to counter Narendra Modi in eastern Uttar Pradesh. Much has changed in the past three years. Mulayam no longer calls the shots in the party and it is now left to his son and new party supremo Akhilesh Yadav to ensure that the “heart” (Etawah) continued to “beat” (Azamgarh).

Despite having a sizeable number of Yadavs and Muslims — the two core vote banks of SP — in the district which has 10 Assembly seats, Akhilesh faces the herculean task of repeating the 2012 Assembly poll performance when the SP had bagged nine seats here.

Mulayam’s absence has made the task even more difficult for Akhilesh, SP supporters say. District leaders had requested Mulayam to campaign here, but so far he has chosen to keep away.

“If netaji (Mulayam) campaigns, our prospects will improve,” says Md Sharief, a resident of the town and an SP supporter. That the task ahead is tough can be gauged from the fact that Akhilesh addressed as many as seven election rallies in various parts of the district on Monday to boost the morale of party workers.

Akhilesh also sought to allay apprehensions that Mulayam had abandoned the constituency. “Netaji knows that you (electorate) will give us all the 10 seats whether he comes here or not,” Akhilesh said.

SP’s detractors, however, are certain to make Mulayam’s absence an issue. “Mulayam has ditched the voters of Azamgarh... he had promised development of the region. After the LS polls, he forgot everything,” says local BJP leader Rama Kant Mishra.

The BJP, however, faces dissension within the party over selection of candidates. Powerful Yadav leader of the saffron party Rama Kant Yadav has fielded his daughter-in-law Archana Yadav from Didarganj after she was denied ticket. Rama Kant’s son is in the fray from Phulpur seat on BJP ticket.

Political analysts predict a triangular fight in almost all the Assembly seats here. “There may be division in Muslim votes given the fact that the BSP has also fielded candidates from the community,” said a journalist.

The Rashtriya Ulema Council, a local outfit, has extended support to the BSP, queering the pitch further for the SP. “We want to rid the state of SP rule and so we are supporting Mayawati,” says council chief Maulana Amir Rashadi.

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