Samajwadi Party (SP) founder Mulayam Singh Yadav on Sunday said that he would not campaign for the party, which has entered into a coalition with the Congress, for the upcoming UP Assembly elections. He also said that he was vehemently against the alliance, and that the SP could have won the election on its own.
Political observers are saying that Mulayam's current stance is a result of his dreams of becoming the president of India being dashed by Akhilesh Yadav, who has his own plans to return as UP chief minister and then go on to become prime minister, or at least be a kingmaker at national-level politics.
Presidential dreams dashed
A few weeks ago, there had been speculation that Mulayam and Akhilesh had been feuding over control of the SP because they had different views of what was to come. It had been rumoured that the BJP, which leads the NDA coalition government at the Centre, had asked Mulayam to play it soft with his party in the UP polls, so the saffron party could benefit from it.
It is common knowledge that UP is possibly the most politically important state in the country, having sent the most number of prime ministers to Parliament. This includes Narendra Modi, who is a Lok Sabha member from the Varanasi constituency. If the BJP won UP, it would all but cement its position at the Centre for the 2019 General Elections.
That could have been achieved had Mulayam stayed in charge of the SP and not been unseated by son Akhilesh. And if the BJP had won UP, grapevine had it that Mulayam had been promised the post of president of India.
Akhilesh's PM ambitions
However, none of that happened because of the ambitions of Akhilesh Yadav, who wants not only to return as UP chief minister — he is the incumbent — but also to maybe become prime minister one day. An alliance with the Congress can take him there, because the Congress still has a sizeable voter base outside UP, which Akhilesh might want to tap at the national level.
The alliance at the state level means if he ever were to stake claim to the post of prime minister, he might get support from the Congress. And if the Congress staked claim for Rahul Gandhi to be prime minister if the Congress wins the 2019 General elections, then the SP can play kingmaker and wield greater clout at power corridors of Delhi.