The Big Story: SP for split
A month before the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections, the Samajwadi Party remains a rapidly shifting landscape. In the latest development, Mulayam Singh Yadav has declared he is still the party chief, just days after he appeared to relent to his son, Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav. The convention at which Akhilesh Yadav was anointed party president by a large section of the Samajwadi Party leadership has been dismissed as illegal. Netaji’s new assertion came a day before the warring factions of the party were to meet the Election Commission to stake their claim to the cycle, the symbol associated with the Samajwadi Party. The party seems to devote more energy to fighting itself than an election where the odds are stacked against it.
For many observers, this election belongs to the Bharatiya Janata Party, which swept the state during the Lok Sabha polls of 2014, winning 81% of the seats – the last time it fared so well in Uttar Pradesh was 1977, when the Janata Party scored a landslide victory after the Emergency. With these polls being touted as a mid-term referendum for the Central government and a harbinger of the 2019 parliamentary elections, the party will put up a hard fight. For the BJP to lose, a substantial chunk of the electorate would have to switch loyalties to another party. So far, the Samajwadi Party has not given voters a reason to do so. The party has traditionally relied on its Muslim-Yadav votebank to win elections. But even this coalition of interests could be in danger, with the Bahujan Samaj Party competing for Muslim votes.
Given the current pressures, the Samajwadi Party will need to marshal all its forces. It will need to cash in on Akhilesh Yadav’s popularity and his image as a dynamic, progressive politician who can deliver on developmental promises, it will need the political capital of Netaji, who forged close bonds with voters and built the party’s vote base, and it will need the added sliver of support that an alliance with the Congress could bring. As of now, however, the party seems more willing to disintegrate than to consolidate.
The Big Scroll: Scroll.in on the day’s big story
- Dhirendra K Jha speculates whether Mulayam Singh Yadav has finally given in to son Akhilesh.
- Praveen Chakravarty, in this article for IndiaSpend, argues that BJP loss would be the only surprising outcome of the UP elections.
- Sruthisagar Yamunan finds parallels to the Mulayam-Akhilesh fight in the southern states.
- Finance Minister Arun Jaitley says the period of pain from demonetisation is drawing to an end.
- The Central Information Commission has asked the Delhi University to allow an inquiry into its 1978 records, including those of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
- Jehovah’s Witnesses will challenge the Supreme Court order making it mandatory for audiences to stand up for the national anthem in cinema halls.
- In the Indian Express, Sandeep Dwivevdi argues that the Lodha committee coud break the hold of cricketing dynasties over the game’s administration.
- In the Economic Times, Pranab Dhal Samanta on how the new chief justice f India coud explore a new middle ground between the executive and the judiciary.
- In the Telegraph, Mukul Kesavan on the business of predicting political and economic futures.
Raksha Kumar on why Chhattisgarh must prosecute the policemen charged with rape:
“With the help of the activists, four women from Pedagellur in Basaguda block of Bijapur on November 1, 2015, filed a First Information Report against a team of security personnel. This was the first time an FIR had been filed against security personnel since the rape laws were amended in 2013 after the brutal rape of a 23-year-old woman in Delhi.
The FIR claimed that the armed men had raided several villages in the district between October 19-24, looting homes, molesting and raping three women, including a teenager. One girl said she was grazing cattle when she was blindfolded by security forces and raped by at least three men. Another woman, in the fourth month of her pregnancy, was dragged into a lake by security forces and raped in the water.”