THE CITIZEN BUREAU | 14 JANUARY, 2019
“We will win 120 Lok Sabha seats in UP and Bihar”
NEW DELHI: Within 24 hours of the Samajwadi party-Bahujan Samaj Party alliance in Uttar Pradesh, Tejashwi Yadav travelled to Lucknow from Patna to embrace the two and extend all support for the move by the Rashtriya Janata Dal. My father (Lalu Prasad Yadav) had always wanted this, he said in what was not just a show of support but a demonstration of regional strength extending over 134 Lok Sabha seats.
“We will win 120 seats in these elections,” the two declared
Interestingly, both Akhilesh Yadav and Tejashwi Yadav along with Congress president Rahul Gandhi have chosen to support each other despite the fact that the SP and BSP have not yet included the national party in their state alliance. Rahul Gandhi when questioned about this by reporters in Dubai welcomed the move, saying it was a decision taken by the two UP parties leaving the Congress free to contest the forthcoming polls on its own. Tejashwi Yadav who is in alliance with the Congress in Bihar sought to make light of the non-alliance in UP, with the signal that all are finally on the same side of the fence.
As written by The Citizen earlier the two young Yadavs of UP and Bihar have a lot in common. They are both sons of men who had dominated politics in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar respectively. They are thus, dynasty. They are both forthright, speak straight, and show no fear.
The one difference is that Akhilesh Yadav while keeping a hug and embrace ready for his father Mulayam Singh Yadav at all times, had to fight the former Chief Minister’s coterie to get his space in the sun. More so as Mulayam Singh, the founder of the Samajwadi party, joined and supported his son’s critics and insisted that the protegee accept his cabal as his own. Even now the father does not seem to have given a carte blanche to Akhilesh Yadav who does have to look over his shoulder, within his own party,
Tejashwi Yadav, on the other hand, has the full backing of his father from jail. But has faced trouble from his brother, having just patched differences that threatened the party. Like his UP colleague he is respectful of elders, a characteristic visible in both their public appearances. As with Mayawati when he met her in Lucknow. And like Akhilesh Yadav who has refused consistently to join swords with Mulayam Singh Yadav, insisting all the time that the latter was senior and his writ prevails.
Instead he has converted loss into an opportunity and reached out to Mayawati, successfully wooing the suspicious and somewhat of a loner leader. He recorded success with the bye elections in Gorakhpur and Phulpur that were the first public demonstration of this alliance. Mayawati, showing rare maturity, sat out the election allowing the SP to field candidates from basically it's stronghold. She directed her cadres to work for the SP official candidates, and this became an open fact towards the end of the campaign when the alliance between the two made itself felt on the ground. SP won both the seats, Gorakhpur being the home constituency of UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.
Interestingly, Akhilesh Yadav has managed to keep all lines of communication open with Mayawati, realising the importance of direct contact. After the elections, efforts were made through rumours to break the alliance with the BJP playing on the suspicious nature of the BSP leader. That this did not work was clear when she countered the rumours, and spoke of the BJPs efforts to break her alliance with the SP. The credit for this rapport is being given in UP circles to Akhilesh Yadav, and his affable, smiling personality that has clearly cut through Mayawati’s isolation.
Tejashwi Yadav too was able to walk the thin line between his father and Nitish Kumar for the brief while the two were in government. He was known to patch up almost daily differences and persuade the ally and the Chief Minister of his party’s good intent. But now that Nitish Kumar is with the BJP, the die has been cast. Tejashwi Yadav has quietly taken over the reins of the party after Lalu Yadav was jailed in the fodder scam, and in the same tradition launched a ceaseless diatribe against both Nitish Kumar and the BJP. He has been attacking both for their communal politics, the lack of development with direct taunts at Nitish Kumar for his silence.
Both the Yadav scions are very active on the social media, with a big following. The tweets are piercing, hit hard, at the BJP and in the Bihar case, Janata Dal (U). The Congress and other regional parties are out of their sights, with the volleys reserved for the BJP and the RSS. Significantly, both Akhilesh and Tejashwi Yadav do not hesitate to speak out of the minorities unlike the Congress that remains hesitant. The attacks on Dalits led both to issue warnings about the BJPs real intent and divisive politics.
Their twitter handles reflect a wide range of interests, activities and of course political barbs directed with their respective state governments and chief ministers getting the brunt. Akhilesh Yadav is a more accomplished campaigner having led the party in the general elections, but more decisively in the Assembly polls. Tejashwi Yadav has campaigned too in the last polls in Bihar, but under the leadership of his father, the more charismatic and incorrigible Lalu Prasad who still holds his own unlike Mulayam Singh whose health has made him a virtual non-player in the state.
The duo are will be the gamechangers for 2019. Not because either is playing at this stage for the national stakes---in fact Akhilesh Yadav has happily conceded this to Mayawati--- but because both will determine the UP and Bihar vote in the Lok Sabha polls by determining the complexion of the opposition alliance. And unlike their fathers, their doors are wide open as are their minds to all possible Opposition equations.