Akhilesh faces flak from upper castes, PDA camps

Insight Online News

Lucknow, March 1 : Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav is caught in a bind. His strategy on OBCs, Dalits and minorities, has backfired badly with both upper castes and the PDA sections of society mounting scathing attacks on him. Of the seven SP MLAs who cross-voted in recent Rajya Sabha polls, five belonged to upper castes — three Brahmins, two Thakurs — and their grievance was that the Samajwadi Party has given up on the policy of inclusiveness. “PDA leaves no room for us in the party. The manner in which Swami Prasad Maurya slammed Sanatana Dharma and Akhilesh Yadav maintained a studied silence on the issue, shows that he actually approved Maurya’s diatribe,” said one of the Brahmin MLAs. Manoj Pandey, one of the MLAs who went against the party line, visited the Ram temple in Ayodhya on Thursday, said, “Majority of the MLAs wanted to go to Ayodhya with the delegation led by the chief minister. We felt that the temple visit should be above party lines but our leaders decided against going and we had to comply.” While the upper caste MLAs are making no bones about their discomfort in the Samajwadi Party, the OBC leaders, ironically, are also questioning the PDA formula. Party MLA Pallavi Patel slammed the selection of candidates for the Rajya Sabha and said, “Where is the PDA in selection of candidates like (Jaya) Bachchan and (Alok) Ranjan.” She later relented but cast her vote for Ramji Lal Suman, a Dalit. Swami Prasad Maurya, even after quitting the SP, said that the SP is not following the PDA in the true sense of the term. He said that ‘Akhilesh has lost his way on socialism and secularism.” Suheldev Bhartiya Samaj Party (SBSP) president Om Prakash Rajbhar, a former SP ally, has been repeatedly criticising Akhilesh and accusing him of using the PDA formula as a mere slogan. Former MP Salim Sherwani also quit the party, accusing Akhilesh of ignoring Muslims while selecting candidates for the Rajya Sabha. Former Minister Abid Raza has also resigned on the same grounds. With upper castes, OBCs and Muslim leaders deserting him on the eve of Lok Sabha elections, Akhilesh Yadav now faces an uphill task in Uttar Pradesh. On one hand, he needs to work overtime to keep his party intact and, on the other, to retain the faith of his voters in his policies — both of which require great political acumen.

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