Uttar Pradesh Elections 2022: Akhilesh Yadav emerges as CM Yogi’s strongest challenger


Around six months back, BJP seemed to be in a firm saddle, as far as Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections were concerned. There was confusion in the Muslim community about whether they should go with Samajwadi Party, BSP or the Congress, and this was seen as an advantage to the BJP. On the other hand, the ruling party was upbeat because it seemed no single opposition leader was a strong challenger to CM Yogi Adityanath.

However, the sudden U-turn by the Prime Minister on the farm laws changed the political atmosphere in the state. The decision sent out a signal that the BJP is not on a strong footing in Uttar Pradesh. Then issues like rising prices and lack of job opportunities also began haunting the ruling dispensation. The euphoria among the BJP’s supporters about the construction of Ram Mandir has also almost petered out. 

PM Narendra Modi in Varanasi. He is trying to support CM Yogi who is facing a tough challenges this time.

And now, Akhilesh Yadav has emerged as a potent challenger to CM Yogi. Not only has he put his own house in order by patching up with uncle Shivpal Yadav, he also has tied up with the Rashtriya Lok Dal that has a good following among the Jats of Western Uttar Pradesh. In Eastern UP too, the Samajwadi Party has taken on board several smaller caste-based parties like the Apna Dal (Krishna group), Mahan Dal and Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party. By forging these alliances, Akhilesh Yadav is trying to dispel the notion that Samajwadi Party is a party only of Yadavs, an impression that cost the party dearly in the 2017 Assembly polls and the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. 

CM Yogi is the Face of BJP in UP.

The Samajwadi Party is also aiming to woo the Brahmin community that forms over 10% of the population, as the community is somewhat disenchanted with the Yogi Adityanath govt. Akhilesh Yadav has inducted prominent Brahmin leaders like former BSP MP Rakesh Pandey, Hari Shankar Tewari and former MLA Brijesh Mishra. It has also toned down its pro-minority stand that could end up displeasing the Brahmin voters. 

What is also worrying the BJP is that Akhilesh Yadav’s Vijay Yatras have drawn huge crowds in Eastern Uttar Pradesh. With Akhilesh emerging as a frontline challenger to Yogi, the confusion among the minorities is over and now they are sure to vote for the Samajwadi Party. This too is a disadvantage for the BJP that had hoped for division of Muslim votes among Congress, SP and BSP. Even the Owaisi factor is now unlikely to divide the Muslim votes. Except in seats where Congress or BSP may put up strong Muslim candidates, the minority community is sure to vote for the Samajwadi Party.

Priyanka Gandhi is fighting well but weak organisation in the state is a concern.

For the Congress, Priyanka Gandhi seems to be fighting a lone battle, but in absence of strong party organisation, her campaign is unlikely to win votes for the party. On the other hand, Mayawati is yet to open her cards about how she plans to take on the BJP in the coming elections. 

For now, the BJP remains the frontrunner for winning the UP Assembly polls, but the gap between it and the Samajwadi Party is decreasing fast. 


About the Author

Writer is a reputed journalist based out of Delhi, India. She has been covering elections for more than 15 years in India. Opinion expressed here are her personal views/analysis.

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