Presence in ‘INDIA’ alliance fuels Samajwadi Party’s ambitions outside Uttar Pradesh
The Samajwadi Party has a clear ambition to turn itself into a national entity from a “regional giant” in Uttar Pradesh.
Shedding its initial reluctance and quickly taking the Congress on board in Uttar Pradesh has given a bargaining chip to the Samajwadi Party (SP) to seek seats outside Uttar Pradesh in the forthcoming assembly elections in five states and the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.
The Samajwadi Party has a clear ambition to turn itself into a national entity from a “regional giant” in Uttar Pradesh. For now, it continues to be a regional party even 31 years after it was founded by Mulayam Singh Yadav. Previous attempts to make the party get the national status, when Mulayam was at the helm, failed.
“Let’s pledge to make the party a national party by the time we meet at the next national convention,” Akhilesh Yadav had said at the party’s national convention in Lucknow on September 29, 2022. The party’s next national meet will be held in 2027.
Since its inception, the SP has won assembly seats outside U.P. in Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh (a constituency that now falls in Telangana), and Gujarat. For instance, the party won seven assembly seats in Madhya Pradesh in 2003. This was its best electoral performance outside U.P.
The Election Commission recognises a political party as a national one if it secures at least 6% of the total valid votes polled in four or more states at a general election to the Lok Sabha or to the legislative assembly.
The SP notched up a poll percentage of over 32 (in 2022) in U.P., but it could never touch the 6% mark in any of the other states. The party’s next pan-India challenge is the 2024 Lok Sabha poll. Before that, elections to Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Mizoram, Madhya Pradesh and Telangana assembly elections will be held towards the end of 2023. The SP expects the opposition INDIA (Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance) coalition, especially the Congress, to give it some seats outside U.P. in the Lok Sabha polls and assembly polls in five states.
The SP joined the INDIA alliance to take on the ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA) led by the BJP in the 2024 Lok Sabha election and give the Congress a “fair share” in UP in seat-sharing.
The SP state presidents of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Telangana, and several other states are expecting the Congress to give their party a handful of seats in the assembly elections and at least one or two in the Lok Sabha polls. Samajwadi Party’s Rajasthan president Braj Nandan Yadav said: “We are hopeful of getting some seats in the forthcoming assembly elections 2023 in Rajasthan and at least one Lok Sabha seat in the 2024 elections. We would like the Alwar Lok Sabha seat because of its winnablity factor for the SP due to its composition. There are 4.5 lakh Yadavs and 4.5 lakh Muslims in the constituency. The SP had won an assembly seat (Rajgadh) in Alwar in 2013. We are expecting an alliance with the Congress for 2023. The Congress had given the SP three seats in the 2018 assembly polls, but at the last minute, the SP pulled out of the alliance.”
Rajasthan has 200 assembly seats and 25 Lok Sabha seats. Akhilesh has been preparing the party’s Rajasthan unit for elections for quite some time.
“With the formation of the INDIA coalition, things will change now. Ultimately, it is the national president Akhilesh Yadav who will decide. We will follow. I am likely to meet him soon,” Braj Nandan Yadav said.
Senior Samajwadi Party leader spokesperson Udaiveer Singh said in Lucknow: “Of course, we have national ambitions. We would like to get seats outside U.P. Which political party would not welcome the idea? But all such things--seat adjustments in U.P. and outside, formula for seat sharing among the allies will be discussed by the committee of 11 convenors of INDIA.”
The SP’s Chhattisgarh state president Om Prakash Sahu said: “We will expect some seats from the Congress to contest the assembly elections. There are 90 assembly seats and 11 Lok Sabha seats here. But (we) may not expect any LS seats for we are not that strong enough here so far as the Lok Sabha polls are concerned. We will definitely contest the assembly seats either alone or in some alliance. That is for Akhilesh Yadav ji to decide. Whenever the Congress needed support, the SP came forward. In political matters, there is nothing wrong to expect something in return.”
The Maharasthra unit of the SP is expecting to contest two Lok Sabha seats in alliance with the Congress.
SP chief Maharashtra state president Abu Asim Azmi has said that he has asked Akhilesh Yadav to seek some seats, especially Mumbai South Central, where it had once performed well. The SP’s Telangana state president S Simhadri said: “The SP will contest both the assembly elections in November and then the LS polls in Telangana. (Whether this will be done) in some alliance or alone, the national president will decide.” Akhilesh had been in talks with Telangana CM K Chandrashekhar Rao.