Will Samajwadi Party be able to survive its present crisis? This is a question that even Mulayam Singh Yadav, the wrestler-turned-politician, cannot answer.
This is notwithstanding the fact that the whole crisis is a family issue between father, son and uncle. The schism has become so big that the party cadre seems to have been evenly divided. If one wanted to see the extent of animosity, it was all visible this past Sunday within and outside the party office where party leaders and cadre were involved in pitched battles.
Insiders believe differences have reached a tipping point, not just between 43-year old chief minister Akhilesh Yadav and his uncle Shivpal Yadav, but also between Mulayam Singh Yadav and the young chief minister.
Akhilesh has shown his displeasure over how the party is being run. He was also dead against the inclusion of Amar Singh in the party. Besides, the merger of Mukhtar Ansari led Qaumi Ekta Dal in the Samajwadi Party was also a major bone of contention between Akhilesh and Mulayam. The chief minister has tried his best to give his government a clean image, though he has miserably failed in this regard as several politicians with long criminal records are still part of his cabinet. The list is apparently not limited to Raja Bhayya alone. There are many others.
While different political parties including BJP, BSP and the Congress are looking at the development with apparent glee, the party cadre and its Muslim supporters are aghast. There is no denying that there is apparent anti-incumbency factor in play at the moment against the Akhilesh government. The fissures in the party will destroy the 25-year old party’s chances in the assembly elections due early next year.
The dispute may be a godsend opportunity for Mayawati led Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP). With Samajwadi Party heading towards a sure doom in the days to come with Mulayam Singh’s family pitted against each other, Mayawati is seeing at her brightening chances in elections.
While Yadavs have been governing the state for the last more than four years, they were not the ones to give the SP the massive and unexpected victory. On the contrary it was the Muslim community that put its complete weight behind the Yadav chieftain to ensure clear majority in the state assembly. With the SP in tatters, the Muslim community, which makes up 20 percent of the state population, may have no choice but to back Mayawati and her BSP.
Mayawati has been trying to bring Muslims and Dalits together to improve her chances in the next year’s elections. While she had made some headway in this regard, there were chances that the Muslim vote will be divided between the SP and the BSP. Some votes were also expected to go to the Congress Party that has been struggling to find a foothold in the most populous state in the country.
Now her chances have incredibly brightened as Mulayam’s family feud seems to have doomed his party’s chances.
Muslims have been very angry with Mulayam, Akhilesh and their Muslim mascot Azam Khan. Azam Khan has been accused of ruling his fiefdom in Rampur by usurping government and private land to construct private schools and a private university. While Azam Khan might be claiming that his university is meant to provide education to poor from among the community, the course fee in the university is beyond a poor family’s capacity.
There is no denying that the community that was single handedly responsible for bringing SP chieftain to power, was completely ignored by Mulayam and his son. Muslim leaders who made the victory of the Yadav party possible with massive Muslim support seem to have become completely irrelevant.
The Samajwadi Party has been a huge failure from the Muslim community’s perspective. In private conversations, Muslim leaders in the SP claim that the decision to go with the Mulayam and Samajwadi Party in the assembly elections in 2012 was a big mistake. The party had promised moon in its manifesto prior to the 2012 assembly elections. It had promised reservation for Muslims in jobs and education. Nonetheless, it didn’t even made a half-hearted move in this regard.
On the contrary, communal riots were allowed to happen in the state within short intervals. Muzaffarnagar riots were allowed to get out of hands and Muslims were killed in large numbers. Rioters had state and police patronage. The same was observed in all the other riots in different parts of the state.
Given the sorry state of affairs in the Samajwadi Party and its complete disregard for its poll promises, Mayawati and her Bahujan Samaj Party have emerged as a viable choice for the Muslims here. Even the most incredulous among Muslims will not think of supporting Mulayam Singh’s party that is no longer able to present a united face, let alone having any planning to win the next polls.
There are clear indications of realignment in this regard. Recently, hundreds of Muslims and Dalits came together for a common lunch in the state capital. The luncheon was organized by one of the biggest Muslim organizations in the country, Jamiat Ulama, in association with the National confederation of Dalit Adivasi Organisation. Jamiat, that had backed Congress Party for many decades, seems to have found Mayawati more sympathetic to its cause. Jamiat is organizing similar feasts in different parts of the state in the run up to the assembly polls.
The Congress party, that has been pinning hope on a revival in the state, may not get much support from the community. Despite roping in ace election strategist Prashant Kishore, who ensured RJD-JDU win in Bihar, the party is not strong on ground level and may not have effective booth level control, very important in ensuring good performance by political parties.
On the other hand, Asaduddin Owaisi led Majlis Ittehadul Muslimeen that has worked hard for the last couple of years in the state may not even open its account in the crucial state. The party has failed to attract any important Muslim face and it may have to suffer the same ignominy here too that it faced in Bihar.
BJP leadership is apparently concerned with this consolidation of Muslim votes behind Mayawati. Muslims and Dalits both make around 20 percent each of the state population and if the two unite, this becomes an unbeatable alliance.
Read More:Our Islamophobia could radicalise Muslim youths
How religious leaders are failing India
Triple Talaq divides Indian Muslims
Are Azam Khan and Asaduddin Owaisi coming together in UP?
How Muslim political parties are helping the BJP win elections
Syed Ubaidur Rahman is a New Delhi based writer and commentator. He has written several books on Muslims and Islam in India including Understanding Muslim Leadership in India.