It was inevitable and was bound to happen for the past 20 months. Finally, Shivpal Yadav broke away from the parent party Samajwadi Party (SP) and made a separate political outfit. Shivpal is adamant, and even intervention of Mulayam could not pacify him.
Trouble in Mulayam’s family started brewing soon after Mulayam anointed Akhilesh as the Chief Minister of UP after 2012 victory in the assembly polls. However things by and large remained under control till January 2017, notwithstanding few altercations.
However, differences came out in the public domain, when tickets were awarded for the assembly poll last year. Mulayam took the side of his brother Shivpal but very soon they both realised that tide is with Akhilesh within the party and therefore they ebbed.
Shivpal Yadav as such has been the backbone of Samajwadi Party ever since Mulayam founded the party in the early nineties. When Mulayam was on his way to becoming a mass leader and creating a political space for his new party in UP, Shivpal was toiling hard. He was engaged with ground workers and was building a strong cadre for the party.
Akhilesh came to fore much later and therefore when Mulayam decided to keep himself away from the Chief Ministership in 2012 and promoted Akhilesh instead, the foundation of this scuffle was laid.
So in the current situation, what this event (separation of Shivpal) means to the state politics and the Samajwadi Party? Prima facia, it may look like a rather inconsequential event as SP is already out of power, but actually, it is not. It is somewhat seminal for the state of Uttar Pradesh and Samajwadi Party.
Samajwadi Party still is a force to reckon with in Uttar Pradesh, and it has the most significant vote share among all opposition parties. In 2017 assembly poll, Samajwadi Party fetched almost 50% of total non-BJP votes. Therefore Samajwadi Party still is the key player in the proposed anti-BJP mahagathbandhan (grand alliance) in UP. Please note that UP sends 80 MP in Lok Sabha out of a total 543.
In case you opine that Shivpal was a dormant player in SP, then you may be grossly wrong. It looks that Akhilesh is a one person show for SP (like Modi to BJP), but the reality is far different. Akhilesh is a face of the party and broadly enjoys the support of second-tier leadership in the party but it is Shivpal who has firm control at the ground level and favourite among SP cadre. Shivpal’s separation is bound to give SP a subtle, yet irreparable dent for sure.
Now the old warhorse Amar Singh may come in picture. In recent times, Amar Singh has given clear indications that he is getting pally with Modi and BJP. Amar Singh and Akhilesh are bête noire since years, and Amar Singh still has a good relationship with Shivpal Yadav. The news which is doing round in political space of UP is that before 2019, Shivpal may join hand with BJP directly and indirectly and Amar Singh can play a role here. Modi understands the importance of Amar Singh in the changed scenario and recently during a function in Lucknow, he was apparently trying to cajole Amar Singh.
It may give mahagathbandhan a severe jolt. As evident from the Gorakhpur Phulpur and Kairana bye-poll, in case all anti-BJP votes get polarised in UP then BJP lands into trouble. Therefore Shivpal’s alienation from SP would provide the right impetus to the BJP before 2019. Even a 5% swing of SP’s vote on the other side may give BJP a decisive edge, and for sure Shivpal has the potential to inflict a swing even more significant than this 5%.
(The author is NewsMobile iJourno. Views expressed are personal)