Akhilesh going solo in Uttar Pradesh

Akhilesh going solo in Uttar Pradesh

Samajwadi Party President Akhilesh Yadav along with his family and party leaders take a metro ride in Lucknow, Sunday, March 10 2019. PTI

For Samajwadi Party (SP) president Akhilesh Yadav, the Lok Sabha polls will be the first major test and the outcome of the elections will decide his stature, not only in the Indian politics but also within his own party.

Akhilesh is being tested at a time when his father and SP patron Mulayam Singh Yadav, who will turn 80 later this year, is not very active.

To compound his problems, Akhilesh's uncle Shivpal Singh Yadav has turned hostile and formed his own outfit. Shivpal has vowed to field his own nominees in the SP strongholds.

Though Akhilesh has forged alliance with the BSP and Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD), political pundits say that BSP supremo Mayawati has been able to gain more from the alliance by securing the comparatively safe seats.

Akhilesh, having got the tougher seats, has also had to accommodate the RLD from his quota of seats. As a result, BSP will be contesting on 38 seats, while the SP will be fielding its nominees on 37 seats.

Even Mulayam had criticised Akhilesh for "yielding" too much to Mayawati. "Akhilesh has ruined the party by entering into alliance with BSP," he had said.

Moreover, Akhilesh was said to be in favour of some kind of an understanding with the Congress but had to bow to Mayawati, who has vehemently opposed it.

"Akhilesh is not as a shrewd politician as Mayawati. Till now Mulayam and Shivpal were there to campaign for the SP. They know the ground reality and the grassroots workers. Akhilesh did not get enough time for that," says political analyst J P Shukla.

SP leaders, however, exuded confidence that Akhilesh would emerge victorious in the test. "Akhilesh is young and always listens to the party workers. He has the support of the youths," a senior SP leader said.

Many SP old guards, who were close to Mulayam or Shivpal have, however, left the party in the past few months. Some have joined hands with the BJP, Congress and Shivpal.

It remains to be seen if Akhilesh, the youngest person to have held the office of chief minister at the age of 38, comes out successful in the test.