Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav is not in favour of any big-ticket alliance for the Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls due next year, though he is open to tie-ups with smaller parties.
The Samajwadi Party is a fragment of socialist-leaning groups and is founded by party patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav, the father of Akhilesh. Since the family feud in 2017, Akhilesh remains the national leader of the party.
The party has had alliances with Mayawati-led BSP and the Congress, but has run into trouble with both on various issues. “My experience with big parties is not good. I will not get into any alliance with them,” Akhilesh told NDTV.
Akhilesh accused Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath of blocking development and encouraging corruption and oppression. “People now want change”, he said, appealing to those who want to defeat the BJP to help the Samajwadi Party.
Ruling out a 2019-like alliance with the Bahujan Samaj Party, Akhilesh said a few BSP leaders were in touch with him.
He said the Congress was too weak in UP. “We did not have a good experience with them in 2017 — we gave them over 100 seats but we could not win. The people of UP have rejected the Congress,” said Yadav, evading a question on Priyanka Gandhi Vadra’s efforts to rebuild that party in the state.
The SP’s target was 350 seats of the total 403 in the election seen as a test of voters’ preference ahead of the 2024 general election. “The BJP is going to lose the upcoming UP elections… they failed the people of UP in the biggest test of their leadership. People were abandoned by the government,” said Akhilesh.
“Their so-called double-engine government — at the Centre and in UP — is going in different directions,” he said.
The 47-year-old made light of the ‘Modi factor’ and its impact on the poll campaign, pointing to the dissidence against Yogi Adityanath.
Referring to PM Modi’s close aide AK Sharma settling for a party post after much hype about his UP assignment, Akhilesh said: “Dilliwale log usko mantri nahin bana paye (people of Delhi couldn’t even make him a minister)”. The BJP would defeat the BJP in UP, he quipped.
He accused the ruling BJP in the state of hiding COVID fatalities during the second pandemic wave.
Akhilesh Yadav became Uttar Pradesh CM in 2012, surpassing Mulayam’s brother Shivpal Singh Yadav. The Yadav family was split into two groups; one led by Akhilesh, who enjoyed the support of his father’s cousin and national general secretary Ram Gopal Yadav.
The rival group was led by Mulayam Singh and supported by his brother and state party chief Shivpal Yadav. Akhilesh fired his uncle twice from his cabinet as it was seen by many as a direct challenge to his father, who has steadily supported Shivpal over Akhilesh.
On December 30, 2016, Mulayam Singh Yadav expelled his son Akhilesh and his cousin Ram Gopal from the party for six years on the grounds of indiscipline, only to revoke the decision 24 hours later.
Akhilesh responded by stripping his father of the party presidency and instead named him the chief patron of the party following the national convention of the party on January 1, 2017.
Mulayam termed the national convention as illegal and directly expelled his cousin, Ram Gopal Yadav, who had convened the national executive convention. But the Election Commission ruled that Ram Gopal Yadav had the right to convene that executive convention, and reversed Mulayam’s order. After that Akhilesh officially became the new national leader of the party.