Samajwadi Party family feud leaves BJP confused over poll strategy

There are two sets of theories: one says with Samajwadi Party a divided house, the Yadavs can vote for BJP to prevent a return of Mayawati.
Akhilesh Yadav, Samajwadi Party

The on-going feud in the Samajwadi Party has left the rank and file of the Bharatiya Janata Party confused as they stand divided in their opinion on whether the party stands to benefit from this feud or it will be detrimental to them in 2017 Assembly election.

There are two sets of theories: one says with the Samajwadi Party becoming a divided house, the Yadavs can vote for the BJP to prevent a return of Mayawati. “What happened with Yadavs during Mayawati’s regime is an open secret now. They were persecuted to such an extent that many Yadavs dropped their surnames,” Manish Sharma, a senior BJP leader, said.

“Look now Mulayam Singh Yadav has said the SP will not come to power. He is using word `if’ SP comes…’ this has created confusion. In this confusion Yadavs will prefer to vote for the BJP,” BJP spokesman Harish Srivastava said.

Muslims and Yadavs form the bulwark of the Samajwadi Party’s vote bank. It is believed that over 80 per cent Yadav votes go to the SP and wherever this caste has dominance, the SP emerges victorious. But this belief was punctured in 2014 Lok Sabha polls when the BJP swept UP winning 73 seats. It is believed Yadavs then voted for the BJP.

“The same trend would be witnessed now. The Yadavs will vote for the BJP,” Srivastava said.

Another section, however, believes that the ugly war in Mulayam Singh Yadav’s clan might drive Muslim voters towards Mayawati. The BJP’s hope of shining in next year’s state polls rests on a three-way division of the Muslim vote between the Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party and the Congress. But the tussle in the ruling party may upset its calculations.

Tactically, the BJP has been ignoring the BSP as a potential rival and saying its fight is with the Samajwadi. But party managers feel it will now be difficult to ignore Mayawati, who has already begun exhorting Muslims not to waste their votes by backing a crumbling Samajwadi.

“The upper castes are solidly behind the BJP and we are sure issues like nationalism, triple talaq, and the uniform civil code will bring the backward castes too,” said BJP state general secretary Vijay Bahadur Pathak.