Mission 2024 set to bear ‘family first’ stamp for SP’s first family
At least six members of the SP’s first family – the Yadavs -- are likely to contest the parliamentary polls and the party has zeroed in on seats for four of them and is looking for suitable seats for two others.
‘Family first’ seems to have become a lasting credo for the Samajwadi Party when it comes to electoral politics and the 2024 Lok Sabha polls are unlikely to be any different despite charges of parivarvaad (dynastic politics) frequently hurled at Uttar Pradesh’s principal opposition party.
At least six members of the SP’s first family – the Yadavs -- are likely to contest the parliamentary polls and the party has zeroed in on seats for four of them and is looking for suitable seats for two others. While these are considered VIP seats of the Samajwadi Party, the SP would first declare candidates for the BJP’s VIP seats.
“We will declare candidates on the VIP seats of the BJP by Navratri (mid-October), Akhilesh Yadav said on October 1.
Seats such as Varanasi, Gorakhpur and Lucknow are considered BJP’s VIP seats.
Before this, the 16th Lok Sabha (2014-2019) had five members of this political family-- SP founder late Mulayam Singh Yadav, his daughter-in-law Dimple Yadav, and his nephews Dharmendra Yadav and Akshaya Yadav and grand nephew Tej Pratap Singh Yadav.
This time, SP chief Akhilesh Yadav (the MLA from Karhal in Mainpuri) is likely to contest the Kannauj Lok Sabha seat, Shivpal (an MLA) from Azamgarh, Dimple will defend Mainpuri, and former Firozabad MP Akshay Yadav, son of SP Rajya Sabha member Ram Gopal Yadav, will contest the Firozabad Lok Sabha seat.
Notwithstanding all the ‘parivarvaad’ criticism heaped by the rivals, family members have been the best bet for the SP in the Lok Sabha polls since 2014. The SP won five seats in the 2014 polls, all Yadav family members. In 2019, it again won five seats, of which two seats were won by Yadav family members.
The party is looking for suitable seats for former Badaun MP Dharmendra Yadav and former Mainpuri MP Tej Pratap Singh Yadav, people familiar with the matter said.
The search for a seat for Dharmendra Yadav has begun as the party may or may not field him from his former constituency Badaun, where the current MP is BJP’s Sanghmitra Maurya, the SP general secretary Swami Prasad Maurya’s daughter.
“We are working with the mindset that he (Akhilesh) will contest the polls from Kannauj. There is no official announcement yet, but he dropped emphatic hints more than once that he will contest from here,” said the SP’s Kannauj district president Salim Khan.
Kannauj is the only district (other than the home district of Etawah) that Akhilesh has visited so frequently since the 2022 U.P. assembly polls.
“He visited Kannauj more than half-a- dozen times since then,” Khan added. Akhilesh started his electoral career in Kannauj in 2000 by winning a bypoll there and then won two general elections from the seat.
Similarly, Shivpal Yadav, Akhilesh’s party colleague in the U.P. assembly, has hinted, more than once in Azamgarh, that he “will contest Azamgarh, if the party asks”, and he too visited the constituency at least five times since the 2022 assembly polls.
There is no speculation about Dimple as she will defend her Mainpuri Lok Sabha constituency, which she “inherited” from her late father-in-law Mulayam and won it in the bypoll held in December 2022.
As for Akshaya Yadav, Shivpal Yadav had said in Firozabad last month: “This time, I will ensure his victory.”
It was Shivpal, according to his own and Akhilesh’s admission, who was responsible for Akshaya’s 2019 loss. Amid the ‘Yadav family feud’ back then, Shivpal had contested the Firozabad Lok Sabha seat as a Pragatisheel Samajwadi Party-Lohia candidate in 2019. He had bagged 91,000 votes and came third, but also caused Akshaya’s defeat by a margin of mere 28,000 votes. Back in the SP fold after a political reconciliation, he now has promised to undo the electoral damage.
If Dharmendra Yadav does contest the Badaun Lok Sabha again seat in an attempt to wrest it from the BJP, his chances of victory have been brightened by the fact that former Congress leader Salim Iqbal Sherwani--the four-time Badaun MP--is now in the Samajwadi Party.
As the Congress candidate in 2019, Salim Sherwani had bagged 50,000 votes and Dharmendra lost the seat by 18,000 votes to the BJP’s Sanghmitra Maurya.
Samajwadi Party vice-president Kiranmoy Nanda already held a meeting in Lucknow last month to review the party’s preparations for the Badaun seat in Dharmendra’s presence.
The party is also looking for a suitable seat for Tej Pratap Singh Yadav who had won the Mainpuri seat in the 2014 Lok Sabha bypoll when Mulayam vacated the seat to retain Azamgarh. Tej did not contest the 2019 Lok Sabha polls when Mulayam retained Mainpuri.
“It’s only natural for a former legislator or a legislator to contest the next polls, isn’t it? Where’s the problem?” asked a senior SP leader.
Samajwadi Party secretary Rajendra Chaudhary said: “The biggest parivarvaad is in the BJP”.
Akhilesh Yadav, too, on several occasions had called the BJP the biggest ‘parivarvaadi’ party at public events and even on his social media handles.
FACTORS FAVOURABLE FOR YADAVS
M-Y factor: All the seats that the Yadavs are likely to contest have been traditionally their strongholds with a strong Muslim-Yadav (M-Y) vote-bank in the constituencies.
PDA factor: Now that Akhilesh has attempted to scale up the M-Y factor to include the PDA (pichada, dalit, alpsankhyak--backward, Dalit, and minorities) under his social engineering formula for the 2024 polls, the party assumes that it will add to the advantage on M-Y high-density seats.
INDIA alliance: The SP is now part of the INDIA (Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance) bloc of opposition parties for the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.
The party is certain there will only be a triangular contest in Uttar Pradesh among the BJP, the SP and the Bahujan Samaj Party, which has chosen to remain ‘non-aligned’.
The SP will get the support of the Congress, Rashtriya Lok Dal, all the Left parties, the Janata Dal (United) and a few others. None of the alliance partners will seek seats that the Yadav family members are looking to contest.
THE YADAV FAMILY IN LEGISLATURES
The 16th Lok Sabha (2014-2019) had five Yadav family members: Mulayam Singh Yadav, Dimple Yadav, Dharmendra Yadav, Akshaya Yadav and Tej Pratap Yadav. At the same time, Akhilesh’s uncle Ramgopal Yadav was in the Rajya Sabha, Akhilesh Yadav was in the U.P. Legislative Council while Shivpal Yadav was in the U.P. Legislative Assembly. In all, there were eight Yadav family members in Lok Sabha, and Rajya Sabha, besides both the houses of the U.P. legislature.
Currently, there is one Yadav family member each in the Lok Sabha (Dimple Yadav) and Rajya Sabha (Ramgopal Yadav), two in the U.P. assembly (Akhilesh and Shivpal) and none in the U.P. Legislative Council. The SP has only three members in the Lok Sabha currently.
ORIGIN OF ‘PARIVARVAAD’
CRITICISM FACED BY SP
Samajwadi Party founder Mulayam Singh Yadav entered electoral politics in 1967, winning the Jaswant Nagar assembly seat in Etawah as a Samyukta Socialist Party member. In all, he won the same seat six times after that. After forming the Samajwadi Party in 1992, he entered national politics in 1996 and passed on his Jaswant Nagar assembly constituency to his younger brother Shivpal Yadav. Shivpal had already been Mulayam’s right-hand man in politics for a very long time and Mulayam did not face any criticism for initiating him into active politics. Shivpal won the Jaswant Nagar seat in his maiden assembly election in 1996. He won the seat six times in a row since then.
The ‘parivarvaad’ criticism surfaced for the first time when the SP founder member Janeshwar Mishra asked Mulayam to field his son Akhilesh Yadav for the Kannauj Lok Sabha bypoll in 1999. Mulayam was apprehensive as he started facing internal ‘parivarvaad’ criticism within the party. At this, Janeshwar Mishra convinced Mulayam by saying “This is not political parivarvaad, rather it is parivarvaad of struggle. Trust me, he will take the SP way more forward with the struggle.”