Will SP push Mulayam for PM post?

Party, the way for Akhilesh Yadav’s acceptability as CM is likely to have been smoothed by the thinking that father Mulayam Singh should be left free to operate in Delhi as he could be presented as a candidate for Prime Minister if a leader from outside the Congress or BJP could make it after the next Lok Sabha poll, whose timing is being hotly speculated.

The SP’s old guard represented by Shivpal Yadav and Azam Khan had initially put up a stiff resistance to the idea of the 38-year-old Akhilesh taking charge in UP. On being elected leader of SP’s Legislature Party in Lucknow on Saturday, the chief minister-in-waiting noted that his father had a ‘role to play in Delhi’.

However, there are no indications at this stage that the SP would push for an early Lok Sabha poll, as some have sought to suggest.

The logic of political dynamics cautions against an impatient approach. The sweeping SP victory in the Assembly election was made possible by an overwhelming section of Muslim and upper caste Hindu voters going with the party in an effort to dislodge Mayawati’s BSP.

In a Lok Sabha election, these sections are likely to have different considerations. A good chunk of upper-caste Hindus has for some time made its preference known for the BJP leading the Centre. The Muslims have tended to opt for a non-BJP party, and the Congress has fitted the bill.

With the SP not expected to go for a snap poll for Parliament, the other regional satraps may also turn out more lukewarm to the idea, although the political stock market is churning overtime after the Congress’ poor showing in the recent Assembly elections.

In Bihar, it is far from clear if JD(U) leader and chief minister Nitish Kumar would like to step out of the NDA framework (with the BJP) to align with the other so-called third or fourth front parties.

If he chooses to root for an early Lok Sabha election by staying with the BJP, his accommodation with the other anti-Congress regional leaders is rendered problematic.

They had been with the BJP in the past but found that arrangement an electoral obstacle. If Mr Kumar steps out of the BJP equation, his government in Bihar cannot survive.

In West Bengal, chief minister and Trinamul Congress chief Mamata Banerjee can show a majority in the Assembly even without the Congress.

But if she fought the next Lok Sabha poll without the Congress in a mid-term election, a return of the CPI(M)-led Left front to centrestage cannot be ruled out as the LF’s vote percentage is only just behind that of the Trinamul-Congress combine.

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