UP polls to define future role of Akhilesh, Mayawati, Rahul and Priyanka
A loss for the BSP would prompt the BJP — and to some extent the Congress — to woo the Jatavs away from Mayawati.
Winning these elections may establish Akhilesh — also the chief of Samajwadi Party — as the inheritor of Mulayam Singh Yadav’s legacy within his party and make him a contender for leading the non-Congress and non-BJP parties in 2019.
Akhilesh may find himself in the league of Bihar CM Nitish Kumar, Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee and Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik. He may turn out to be the front-runner of the third front due to the sheer number of the Lok Sabha seats in UP. If Congress fails to set its house in order, the front could be the main challenger to the BJP-led NDA in 2019.
Moreover, if Akhilesh gets a second consecutive term on his own steam — he has made the UP elections presidential by turning the debate to his achievements as CM — it would be an unprecedented event in the state’s recent history.
This would give him a free hand in implementing his development plans and make SP a representative of a wider vote-base, going beyond the Yadavs and Muslims. However, a drubbing will see Akhilesh fighting battles within the SP.
Mayawati is also on the brink of either emerging as a strong force or witnessing her party’s breaking up. If she manages to get the Muslim votes along with the Jatavs, she may be able to form the next government. But the SP-Congress alliance may keep the minority votes away from her.
A loss for the BSP would prompt the BJP — and to some extent the Congress — to woo the Jatavs away from Mayawati. For the Congress, the prospects are likely to be better after the alliance with the SP.
The other bright spot for Congress is that Priyanka is taking a more than active interest in the party’s work in UP. The clamour within the party that she should take up a post and even contest the 2019 general elections is likely to grow after these elections. Party leaders are hopeful she will accept if only to strengthen the hands of her brother Rahul.
A loss for the BJP, which has upped the stakes in UP by claiming a repeat of the 2014 Lok Sabha polls where it won 71 out of 80 seats, would mean some dissenting voices becoming more vocal.
Party chief Amit Shah, who still enjoys the full confidence of PM Modi and appears unassailable, may find some leaders and the RSS questioning his performance. The party performed badly in Delhi and Bihar under his stewardship.
However, the BJP is not known to change chiefs based on poll outcomes. Outside UP, the AAP has high hopes in Punjab and is putting up a good show in Goa. If the party wins Punjab, Arvind Kejriwal will surely assume a larger role than being just a CM of any one state. The party will also be encouraged to increase its political footprint in other states.