The abrogation of Article 370, bifurcation of Jammu and Kashmir, coupled with the passage of Triple Talaq Bill, could not have come at a worse time for Samajwadi Party which is already facing existential crisis.
The party, struggling to recover from the crushing defeat in Lok Sabha elections, is at its wit’s end to articulate its stand on two legislations to send a conciliatory message to its votebank ahead of bypolls to 14 Assembly seats in UP.
The SP rank and file are alarmed over the subtle consolidation of Hindu votes for the BJP and want the party brass to ‘go soft’ on both the legislations passed by the Parliament. They apprehend that any tough stance against the legislations could antagonise Muslim women and urban voters.
On Monday, SP chief Akhilesh Yadav, in a guarded response to the Jammu and Kashmir Bill, said: “Any move that seeks to strengthen the integrity of India is to be welcomed. But in a democracy, decisions must be made by consensus, not by threat, force or fear.”
On Tuesday, Akhilesh took an ambiguous stand in Lok Sabha during the debate on the Bill and shied away from taking a firm stand against the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization Bill and only questioned as to what good it would bring to the people of the border state.
The SP is also shaken to the core by the resignation of three Rajya Sabha MPs in recent times. The latest SP member to quit Rajya Sabha is Sanjay Seth, an affluent real estate developer of Lucknow. Seth, who was the national treasurer of SP, is likely to join the BJP soon.
Earlier, after the Lok Sabha poll debacle, Rajya Sabha member and former PM Chandrasekhar’s son Neeraj Shekhar resigned from the Upper House and joined the BJP.
Another RS member Surinder Nagar also resigned and is tipped to be joining the saffron party soon. These leaders are miffed with the style of Akhilesh Yadav’s functioning.
This is not the end of the list as sources said some other leaders, including Rajya Sabha members of Samajwadi Party, were set to resign and join the BJP in the days to come.
Akhilesh has apparently failed to keep his flock together, be it in terms of family or party. The exodus has started and there are several fence-sitters, clearly annoyed having been sidelined by ‘Team Akhilesh’ for a long time. With SP patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav’s health failing him, the road to recovery seems arduous.
A senior SP leader pointed out, “The SP under Mulayam Singh Yadav was out of power in UP from 1995 to 2003, but there were no desertions and all prominent leaders chose to rally behind him. The situation now is in stark contrast. After three back-to-back poll debacles in 2014, 2017 and 2019, the party seems to be staring down the barrel. There seems to be no plan whatsoever to revive the party. I wonder what more Akhilesh and his advisors are waiting for.’’