The Election Commission’s recognition to the Akhilesh Yadav faction as the Samajwadi Party and allotting ‘bicycle’ symbol to it will have an impact on UP Assembly polls and might force both BSP and BJP to redraw their poll strategy.
Both the parties had been banking heavily on the internal feud in the first family of the state with Mayawati projecting her party as the only force to take on the saffron brigade in the face of a weakened Samajwadi Party.
BJP on its part was seeking to capitalise by promising development and law and order.
Akhilesh-led SP is likely to seal its alliance with the Congress later this week, a deal that would pitchfork the combine as the main contender against the resurgent BJP in the coming elections in UP.
SP and Congress together will seek to offer a stronger and cleaner alternative to the Muslim electorate which will be looking for a party that could defeat BJP as the hustings.
Muslim voters, who account for nearly 20 per cent of Uttar Pradesh’s population, can make or mar the electoral prospects of key political parties vying for the top slot in the high stake elections.
While divided Muslim votes translate to gains for BJP, a consolidation will change the poll arithmetic as minorities play a crucial role in at least 125 of 403 constituencies.
Muslims are known to go with a party or alliance that stands the best chance to defeat BJP and Akhilesh-led SP and Congress together could provide them this option.
This would also mean that the extent of Muslim support to BSP will not be up to its expectations to see its candidates through.
Working on this equation, Mayawati gave tickets to Muslims in as many as 97 constituencies, but her old record of allying with BJP for power in UP often returns to haunt her.
As ruling SP grappled with internal feud, BSP supremo Mayawati sought to fish in troubled waters, seeking to drive a wedge in SP camp to wean away the crucial Muslim vote bank.
Muslims are considered the traditional votebank of the ruling Samajwadi Party and the concern over SP family feud has been voiced by several top clerics including, Syed Ahmed Bukhari, the Shahi Imam of Delhi’s Jama Masjid and Maulana Salman Nadvi of Lucknow-based Darul Uloom Nadwatul Ulama.
These leaders gave a blunt message to Mulayam Singh Yadav that their votes would end up with BSP if the internecine war in his party did not end.