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Can Akhilesh Yadav emerge as UP’s Go-To Opposition leader in 2022?

Athar Husain 17 Feb 2020

Akhilesh

Akhilesh Yadav's meeting in Kannauj and an incident associated with it has generated vast media attention. For the future of the young scion’s role in Uttar Pradesh politics, it is significant. At a meeting at Kannauj on February 15, a BJP supporter reportedly walked to the front and first raised the issue of unemployment. Believing that this youth could well highlight the incompetence of BJP govt both at the Centre and State, Akhilesh Yadav invited him near the dias! Instead, the young man used the platform to raise the slogan of "Jai ShriRam". At first, Akhilesh Yadav reacted normally and made some astute political points. But when the sloganeering continued unabated, the SP supremo lost his cool. Yadav’s response is now being analysed critically in some political quarters, in an atmosphere that today prevails in Namo’s New India. It reveals a strategy of the BJP to deliberately send such a youth to the Kannauj rally to provoke Akhilesh Yadav.

The entire transcript of Akhilesh Yadav's reponse is not objectionable in the first instance but he lost his cool which was not expected of him and which flies in the face of his image of a collected politician. Akhilesh Yadav has very well nurtured his political image as a sincere politician with a mix of humility and modesty with modernity in the past two years since he has taken complete control over the party. There is now no room for criminals, more respect for women and their promotion in leadership is visible. Outright cronyism has taken a back seat. Earlier, the bitter and often, petty family feuds within the Samajwadi Party came out in the open but ideologically Akhilesh Yadav remained steadfast. Through this political churning, a new political party emerged creating a picture of an outfit where clean politics mattered. Something similar to the Aam Aadmi Party’s  kind of politics in Delhi where Arvind Kejriwal with his own image countered the distractions which had been (deliberately) brought into the Delhi campaign by the BJP! This was a cynical ploy of the “the party with no difference” with its attempt to centre the political discourse around the religious identity divide between Hindus and Muslims where Shaheen Bagh, the India Pakistan (cricket) match, ‘Goli’ (gun shots) and ‘Gaali’ (abuse) was brought to the fore.

BJP knows this strategy well: that it is the image of the leadership that wins an election! Rather than working to better the image of their own leadership, it is far easier to target and shame the political image of opponents. The BJP has done this well and with easy because of the vast propaganda mill that they control. This is visible in their strategy vis a vis Rahul Gandhi and in fact, the entire Gandhi family. They have, in fact, have reaped political benefits nationally by doing so.

Now two years down, the UP elections in 2022 are a big battle that looms; a battle which the BJP will leave no stone unturned to win. Akhilesh Yadav today has the best chance to win. Already there are murmurs in political circles, words a la Arvind Kejriwal, to the effect that "ab desh mein kaam ki rajneeti chalegi" and Akhilesh Yadav is best suited to represent that "Kaam ki Rajneeti" in UP. Knowing this full well, the political machinery of the BJP wants to damage this image of Akhilesh Yadav where his image of being sincere, non-corrupt and hard working and his efforts for development in developing infrastructure in the health, power, education and women empowerment sectors remain fresh in the minds of the state’s electorate. A deepening of this image will be detrimental to the BJP's poll prospects in UP where --in the present scenario ---BSP's is fast losing the political oppositional space and the Congress is rudderless. This makes for the possibility of a sharp, two way fight in UP between the BJP and Akhilesh Yadav in 2022. As was evident in Delhi and Jharkhand (2019, 2020), a two way fight against a strong regional party opponent in the state elections makes BJP lose.

Under these testing circumstances, for Akhilesh, the best strategy is to nurture upon his image of responsible and sincere leader. Despite and inspite any provocation from the BJP, he should not fall into their trap from where they can target and shame his image. If he nurtures this calmly, we have a serious electoral battle ahead of us, in 2022 in UP.

(The writer is director, Centre for Objective Research and Development (CORD))

 

Can Akhilesh Yadav emerge as UP’s Go-To Opposition leader in 2022?

Akhilesh

Akhilesh Yadav's meeting in Kannauj and an incident associated with it has generated vast media attention. For the future of the young scion’s role in Uttar Pradesh politics, it is significant. At a meeting at Kannauj on February 15, a BJP supporter reportedly walked to the front and first raised the issue of unemployment. Believing that this youth could well highlight the incompetence of BJP govt both at the Centre and State, Akhilesh Yadav invited him near the dias! Instead, the young man used the platform to raise the slogan of "Jai ShriRam". At first, Akhilesh Yadav reacted normally and made some astute political points. But when the sloganeering continued unabated, the SP supremo lost his cool. Yadav’s response is now being analysed critically in some political quarters, in an atmosphere that today prevails in Namo’s New India. It reveals a strategy of the BJP to deliberately send such a youth to the Kannauj rally to provoke Akhilesh Yadav.

The entire transcript of Akhilesh Yadav's reponse is not objectionable in the first instance but he lost his cool which was not expected of him and which flies in the face of his image of a collected politician. Akhilesh Yadav has very well nurtured his political image as a sincere politician with a mix of humility and modesty with modernity in the past two years since he has taken complete control over the party. There is now no room for criminals, more respect for women and their promotion in leadership is visible. Outright cronyism has taken a back seat. Earlier, the bitter and often, petty family feuds within the Samajwadi Party came out in the open but ideologically Akhilesh Yadav remained steadfast. Through this political churning, a new political party emerged creating a picture of an outfit where clean politics mattered. Something similar to the Aam Aadmi Party’s  kind of politics in Delhi where Arvind Kejriwal with his own image countered the distractions which had been (deliberately) brought into the Delhi campaign by the BJP! This was a cynical ploy of the “the party with no difference” with its attempt to centre the political discourse around the religious identity divide between Hindus and Muslims where Shaheen Bagh, the India Pakistan (cricket) match, ‘Goli’ (gun shots) and ‘Gaali’ (abuse) was brought to the fore.

BJP knows this strategy well: that it is the image of the leadership that wins an election! Rather than working to better the image of their own leadership, it is far easier to target and shame the political image of opponents. The BJP has done this well and with easy because of the vast propaganda mill that they control. This is visible in their strategy vis a vis Rahul Gandhi and in fact, the entire Gandhi family. They have, in fact, have reaped political benefits nationally by doing so.

Now two years down, the UP elections in 2022 are a big battle that looms; a battle which the BJP will leave no stone unturned to win. Akhilesh Yadav today has the best chance to win. Already there are murmurs in political circles, words a la Arvind Kejriwal, to the effect that "ab desh mein kaam ki rajneeti chalegi" and Akhilesh Yadav is best suited to represent that "Kaam ki Rajneeti" in UP. Knowing this full well, the political machinery of the BJP wants to damage this image of Akhilesh Yadav where his image of being sincere, non-corrupt and hard working and his efforts for development in developing infrastructure in the health, power, education and women empowerment sectors remain fresh in the minds of the state’s electorate. A deepening of this image will be detrimental to the BJP's poll prospects in UP where --in the present scenario ---BSP's is fast losing the political oppositional space and the Congress is rudderless. This makes for the possibility of a sharp, two way fight in UP between the BJP and Akhilesh Yadav in 2022. As was evident in Delhi and Jharkhand (2019, 2020), a two way fight against a strong regional party opponent in the state elections makes BJP lose.

Under these testing circumstances, for Akhilesh, the best strategy is to nurture upon his image of responsible and sincere leader. Despite and inspite any provocation from the BJP, he should not fall into their trap from where they can target and shame his image. If he nurtures this calmly, we have a serious electoral battle ahead of us, in 2022 in UP.

(The writer is director, Centre for Objective Research and Development (CORD))

 

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