Sympathy for ‘Chacha’ Shivpal in central UP but votes for the Mahagathbandhan
The SP-BSP alliance is being tested by Shivpal Yadav in central UP. But observers believe that despite sympathy for him and a high profile campaign, he is unlikely to make much of a dent
It is widely expected that ‘Chacha’, as Shivpal Singh Yadav is known in Yadav land of Uttar Pradesh, will play spoilsport in the third and fourth phases of polling with his newly formed Pragatisheel Samajwadi Party (PSP) fielding candidates against Akhilesh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party, confusing Yadav voters. Caught between the ‘Chacha’ ( uncle) and the ‘Bhatija’ ( nephew), BJP’s best hope is that Yadavs stay at home or if they turn up to vote, they get split between the two.
The region stretching from Mainpuri to Etah and from Aurriya to Farrukhabad Yadavs used to vote en bloc for Samajwadi party. This unity had made this Yadav land an impregnable fortress of the Samajwadi Party. But factionalism in the family has made the party vulnerable in this election. “Akhilesh Yadav and Shivpal Singh Yadav are both family members,” Dalbir Singh Yadav, a cousin of Shivpal Singh Yadav said in Etawah.
Mainpuri, Auraiya, Etawah, Budaun, Kunnaj, Firozabad and Etah are districts where around 40% of the population happen to be Yadav. As per 2011 census the Yadav population is 9% of UP’s total population though.
“Earlier people of this region talked only about ‘Cycle’ (the election symbol of Samajwadi Party. But now they have an option of Chabi (symbol of PSP). Having choices is good in life but when the option is to choose between members of the same family then it becomes a difficult choice,” Dalbir added.
Shivpal Singh Yadav campaigned hard. His campaign clearly had no shortage of funds, one reason why people suspected that he was being propped up by the BJP. Wherever he went, people turned up to listen to him. “Shivpal enjoys a personal rapport with the people of this area. He calls them by their first name,” ponted out an voter. Truly enough Shivpal Yadav calls people by their names. “Meri izzat tumhare haath mein hai (My prestige is in your hand), he told Sanjay Kumar Yadav, pradhan of village Rasidpur Kaneta in Firozabad district.
Shivpal Yadav is contesting from Firozabad, the city known for its bangles. He has challenged his nephew Akshay Yadav, son of senior Samajwadi Party leader Ram Gopal Yadav.
“I have come here to explain how Professor sahib (as Ram Gopal Yadav is called) has connived against me and sidelined me in Samajwadi Party. I never asked for any party post but I always promoted people like you,” Yadav had said in a rally in a village Odumpur.
Shivpal is projecting himself as a victim of family fight and blaming Ram Gopal Yadav for his ouster from Samajwadi Party. “Time has come to teach Ram Gopal Yadav a lesson,” he said.
Some SP leaders claim that Shivpal had given money to some pradhans to keep ‘ladke’ (boys) happy. In local parlance it means supplying liquor to the youth who will work for the party. They say that division of Yadav votes would help the BJP in this region. Some even say that Shivpal enjoyed a special relationship with BJP chief minister Yogi Adityanath, who allotted to him in Lucknow the biggest `bungalow’ after Akhilesh and Mayawati were asked to vacate theirs.
“This region has strong SP base. Even in the face of Modi wave SP won Mainpuri, Budaun, Kannauj and Firozabad in 2014. This was because Yadavs voted en bloc for Samajwadi Party. If there is a division of votes BJP may smell victory here,” Rajnish Sharma, a teacher in Saifai Inter College said.
He said that despite Shivpal Yadav putting in extra hours SP candidates will win easily because of the dalit and Muslim support.
“This is true that Akhilesh did not give Shivpal what he deserved and Ram Gopal Yadav sided with Akhilesh. We have full sympathy with Shivpal. But this is a Lok Sabha election and people know that voting for Shivpal Yadav will not be of any use therefore they may vote for SP,” Ghanshyam Yadav, a trader summed up the mood.