UP polls result: What went wrong for Akhilesh Yadav?
Huge, frenzied crowds causing a near stampede at his election rallies across Uttar Pradesh had led many to believe that Samajwadi Party (SP) president Akhilesh Yadav was poised to give the BJP a run for its money, if not beat the saffron party with his alliance partners Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) and Suheldev Bhartiya Samaj Party (SBSP) in the Assembly polls.
Although Akhilesh managed to increase his party’s tally of seats to 115 from 47 in 2017 and also better its vote share from 21 per cent to 34 per cent, he failed to dislodge the BJP from power, confounding political pundits.
While Akhilesh might be credited with taking on the BJP singlehandedly in the absence of his father and SP patron Mulayam Singh Yadav, his failure to lead his party to victory could be attributed to a variety of factors, including poor selection of of candidates in the Jat-dominated western UP region, personal attacks on Yogi Adityanath, reposing too much faith in his alliance partners and ‘Jinnah’ and ‘Pakistan’ remarks in his rallies, which provided the BJP an opportunity to corner him and and brand him ‘anti-Hindu’.
Besides, Akhilesh’s reference to Mohammad Ali Jinnah’ and Pakistan at his election rallies gave the BJP an opportunity to polarise the polls along communal lines in western UP.
Compounding the woes of Akhilesh, neither former UP minister Swami Prasad Maurya and Dharam Singh Saini — who had resigned from the BJP and joined his party days before the polls — could help the SP president as both lost from their respective seats.
Akhilesh may however draw solace from the fact that he has emerged as the only challenge to the BJP in India’s biggest state as the two other players — Congress and BSP — have been rendered irrelevant in the state’s electoral scenario. “Akhilesh can build on this opportunity and may emerge as a challenger to the BJP in 2024,” said a Lucknow-based political observer.