Stepping down as MP, Akhilesh shows fight back against Modi must start from Lucknow

The significance of Akhilesh Yadav’s decision to relinquish his Lok Sabha seat in favor of joining the Uttar Pradesh Legislative Assembly (from Karhal constituency) can be said to extend far beyond beyond the borders of his state in the electoral battle against the unleashed saffron. moving train. Both personally and politically, the decision to stay in Lucknow rather than chase the illusion of “national importance” in New Delhi is a testament to the formation of a new leader.

After the fiery fight that the Samajwadi Party (SP) waged against the combined power of the Narendra Modi-Yogi Adityanath machine under its leadership, it must necessarily be inferred that the son of Mulayam Singh has become his own man. When in 2012 he was appointed Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, Akhilesh Yadav was not entirely out of his father’s shadow, nor could he afford to ignore his not-so-uncle. Benin, Shivpal Yadav. Maybe it was Akhilesh’s political karma. He was forced to pay for the “sins of his father”.

When it all started in the late 1980s, Mulayam Singh’s personality and political ambitions could only have found expression in an assertive caste idiom, as that was the only way to confront the social order – groaning under the rule of the upper castes – and dislodged. Moulayam Singh did mobilize the middle and lower castes and the numbers but was unable – perhaps not even bothered to – enlist the Hindi intelligentsia in the cause of his Lohiaite socialist orientations and inclinations.

And, when the resulting social churning demanded that everyone had to choose between ‘Mandal or kamandal’, Mulayam Singh made up his mind and was greeted with the derisive greeting of ‘Maulana Mulayam’. It was this trope of bashing that was later to be used by Narendra Modi in his 2002 campaign in Gujarat, when he coined the code word “Mian Musharraf” to deadly effect.

Given that Mulayam Singh is the original political enemy of the Hindutva mob in Uttar Pradesh, it was only natural that his son had been so systematically targeted by Modi’s mob during the campaign that had just taken place. to end. Akhilesh was bruised, but it’s safe to assume that the son has now sufficiently settled his father’s debts. It’s time to move on and not get stuck in the tangles and missteps of yesteryear.

The importance of Uttar Pradesh

Because Uttar Pradesh remains so crucially at the center of Modi-Shah’s political dominance, it is only by challenging the Hindutva mob in this Akhara that Akhilesh can eventually hope to become the catalyst for the realignment of democratic and progressive forces for the battle of Lok Sabha in 2024. But the cart must not come before the horse.

The Akhilesh Yadav who was on display in the campaign came across as a politician of dull seriousness and sobriety. And, now, he’s meant that, unlike the Gandhis, he won’t return to the cozy comfort of an easy, low profile. Political leadership is more than just winning or losing elections. Politics, ultimately, is a clash of ideas about how society should be organised.

The central aim of politics is to work – whether in power or not – for an equitable social and economic order. Those who find themselves out of power have an obligation to criticize, protest, challenge and confront official orthodoxy and administrative arbitrariness. This task must be undertaken with diligence, dedication and joy, day after day, week after week and year after year. Every time Yogi Adhiyanath’s Uttar Pradesh conducts new experiments in political unreason and bureaucracy dadagiriit is the sacred duty of the SP to articulate the grievances and anxieties of the people.

Akhilesh will necessarily have to catch up karmabhoomi (land of action). To begin with, the SP must ensure that the Modi-Yogi diet does not dilute the free ration scheme. On the contrary, Samajwadis should demand that the program be deepened and extended to all. After winning an impressive victory with this emergency measure, forced by the COVID-19 pandemic, the BJP can no longer afford to listen to “rational economists”. It is important that Akhilesh’s SP accumulates a consistent record of defending the lower social order and fairness and justice in the political space.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with UP CM Yogi Adityanath aboard a cruise ship during his visit to Varanasi, Monday, December 13, 2021. Photo: PTI

Akhilesh will have to recognize the elephant in his political living room: the success of Hindutva groups in marginalizing Muslims, a core group of SP voters. He will also have to be imaginative in the face of the perception that his party was ignoring the harsh requirements of “law and order” – a code word for being lenient towards Muslims, who, according to the Hindutva account, are the only source of insecurity and anxiety in society in general. Over the past two decades, the right has successfully linked Muslims to the undefined but troubling “terrorist” threat.

The SP leader has his work cut out for him: finding words, idioms, language and arguments to (1) give hope to Muslims that they have a place of dignity and self-respect in the Indian constitution ; (2) speak out whenever minorities are unfairly targeted; and (3) isolate and dilute the appeal of radical and extremist voices among Muslims. This will require both political maturity and clear objectives; shortcuts and opportunism don’t pay off in the long run.

Above all, Akhilesh should not be in a rush to present himself as the alternative to Narendra Modi. As prime minister, Modi will have the inherent advantage of kneading “national” issues and concerns into local battles; caution and common sense demand that the BJP be blocked and defeated in one state after another. Depriving the BJP of the comfort of a political bank balance in the largest state, its national project instantly becomes a shaky business.

Aam Aadmi Party and Arvind Kejriwal have already shown in Punjab how the BJP can be turned into a toothless tiger. It would be reasonable to expect that AAP leaders would want to replicate their performance in Punjab in Himachal Pradesh and Haryana; and, they should be applauded and encouraged to do so.

Maharashtra, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Odisha are already outside the BJP’s sphere of influence. If Congress can pull itself together in Gujarat and Karnataka, it will help redraw the political map of the country.

But it is from Lucknow that the message must come that the resistance has begun.

Harish Khare is a journalist who lives and works in Delhi.

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