After witnessing a near rout in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, the ruling Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh might be facing the toughest challenge in its political history. Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, who was basking in the glory of wrestling the reigns of the state from Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati in the 2012 assembly elections, is now facing political heat in more ways than one.
The dwindle in Yadav's fortunes has been thick and fast with the SP, which had secured a comfortable majority in 2012 in the 403-member UP Assembly, getting reduced to only five Lok Sabha seats in the general elections compared to 23 it had won in 2009.
In the latest step indicating utter desperation to fix responsibility for the poll debacle and poor law and order, the government has replaced chief secretary Jawed Usmani with Alok Ranjan.
Usmani, who had been handpicked by SP supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav for the coveted post, was the Muslim face of the bureaucracy.
While, the dust of poll debacle is still settling, the Akhilesh government has been tarred with a fresh series of events. The recent rape and murder of two Dalit girls in Badaun districts, wherein some local cops were prime accused, coupled with deteriorating power situation in the state, has given fresh ammunition to opposition parties to put the government in the dock.
Recently, several cases of rapes and murders have come to light, many of which were reported from the pocket borough of Mulayam's home, district Etawah and adjoining areas. The rising incidents of robberies and loot aboard train, is another reminder of poor policing.
On the power crisis, the Bharatiya Janata Party, which had won 71 seats of the 80 LS seats in UP, has alleged the SP government was working with vendetta and subjecting the districts where SP lost to long hours of power cuts. The areas where SP candidate won were enjoying 24 hours of power, it claimed.
Taking stock of the situation, Akhilesh Yadav had already sacked three dozen party leaders holding minister of state ranks and dissolved all the party and frontal organisational units.
Although, Akhilesh has completed over two years in office, his government has nothing noteworthy to showcase except for distributing free laptops to XII-pass students for the 2011-12 academic session.
The law and order situation is shaky and the power situation has not improved a bit from 2012. No new big ticket investment has come and several of the Public Private Partnership projects have failed to take off for want of investors and developers.
The resurgent BJP has 2017 polls in sight and would not give any leeway to the state government on any front. The BSP, which had failed to win any seats, is also looking at an opportunity to strengthen its cadre base and a weakened SP would mean direct gain for BSP.
The Muslim-Yadav formula that had worked for SP in the past polls is no longer a winning proposition for the party, which is now desperate to reinvent itself. Mulayam, who had been nursing prime ministerial ambitions, is now left to keep his flock together.
While people reeling under extreme hot conditions would get respite from monsoon forecast to be 2-3 weeks away, there seems no respite for Akhilesh, who had been projected as a deserving heir apparent to Mulayam's political legacy.
Image: Akhilesh Yadav campaigning at a poll rally
Photograph courtesy: Facebook