Akhilesh Yadav has been unanimously re-elected as the national president of Samajwadi Party for a five-year term. He has now found a unique opportunity to do for the SP what Rahul Gandhi has so far failed to do to the Congress. The re-election will not only help Akhilesh consolidate his grip over the party but it also gives him a big chance to rebuild the party as a strong opposition in the state.
In politics, no party can die if it has a vision and also a leader. Though the Samajwadi Party was swept off in the BJP wave of early 2017 in Uttar Pradesh, Akhilesh’s personal image as a development-oriented and witty leader remains intact. While he has already sidelined old satraps like Mulayam and Shivpal, Akhilesh now needs to strategically plan to first emerge as a powerful opposition and then, if successful, hope of returning to power again in 2022.
But before that, Akhilesh would have to pass the big 2019 elections test. Uttar Pradesh alone sends 80 leaders to the Lok Sabha. Out of them, at present, 71 belong to the BJP or its allies. A big win in 2019 in Uttar Pradesh may directly catapult Akhilesh to the Centre, in case Modi magic fails.
At present the opposition parties are divided, even as the threat of their political extinction looms large. There is also no credible leader around whom all parties can rally. Bihar CM Nitish Kumar was the last man who aspired to do so but then, he eventually dumped the ambition and joined hands with the BJP. Congress is trying hard to push Rahul Gandhi as the leader entire India would like to vote, which is highly unlikely if we consider his record. Congress’s fortunes have been in an ever declining mode since he started playing the leadership role.
The vacuum in opposition space provides Akhilesh the opportunity of a life time. Interestingly, now he also has apparent support of father Mulayam, while feuding uncle Shivpal appears to have made adjustment with his low profile.
Moreover, in the last 15 years, Uttar Pradesh has refused to re-elect a CM – first Mayawati, then Akhilesh and now Yogi Adityanath.The trend shows growing maturity of UP voters and Akhilesh can certainly fancy his chances.