Changing slogans with the times

It is interesting to see the Samajwadi Party slogans change with the change of guard. At a rally in the Hindi heartland the compere was working the crowd as Akhilesh Yadav’s helicopter hovered in the air above trying to make a landing. “Jiska kaam kayam hai, uska naam Mulayam hai (whose work is good his name is Mulayam),” he shouted into the mike. and then immediately did a course correction — “Jiska Kaam Kayam hai, uska Baap Mulayam hai (whose work is good his father is called Mulayam),” he said shifting the focus of an old, time-tested slogan to Akhilesh instead of his father!

Campaign Repartee

Akhilesh’s wife Dimple Yadav is holding her own this season. Reaching out to women specially, she is asking them to give her husband another chance as Chief Minister. She is specially articulate on issues concerning law and order and women’s security. One can see the change in her from when she contested her first election in 2012—there is a certain confidence and zest in her campaigns. And she doesnt hesitate to take on the PM asking him in filmy style, “Mere angan mein tumahara kya kaam hai (why are you interfering in my home)?” This was in response to a Modi rally where he criticised the Akhilesh Yadav-led SP government. Clearly, she has taken a leaf out of her husband’s campaign style of one-liners. For Akhilesh Yadav had the media in smiles recently when at a press conference in Lucknow, Rahul Gandhi who was asked to speak first, handed the mike to Akhilesh, saying that since he had spoken first during the last press conference, it was now Akhilesh’s turn. At which point, Akhilesh smiled and said: “Lucknow mein aakar tehzeeb seekh lee (you have learnt the etiquette that Lucknow is known for).”

The Maya Factor

The Mayawati factor cannot be ignored. While Akhilesh is trying to make his mark as a development man, the BSP rule was known for its law and order. And many voters who exited polling booths saying that they have voted for law and order are being seen to have cast their vote for the BSP. Since she herself does not talk to the media, her supporters talk of her simple lifestyle—despite the lavish bungalow and penchant for statues (she has incidentally promised not to build any more statues of herself). According to a source, while her bungalow in Lucknow has 14 rooms, there is only one bedroom. The rest of the rooms have been dedicated to the memory of Dalit icons with their paintings on the walls. The tragedy, of course, is that very few get to see this in-house museum.

Bade Dil Ki Dosti

While in Lucknow, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley told NewsX in an interview that the SP had wasted 105 seats by giving them to a non-party like the Congress. When this was pointed out to Akhilesh, he replied that his alliance with the Congress should be seen as as Bade Dil ki Dosti, for what was the point in being a kanjoos (miserly) with friends. Well, let’s see how long this lasts because the Congress and SP have had a very rocky past right from the time when Mulayam Singh Yadav withdrew support from the N.D. Tewari government in 1989 to Mulayam’s U-turn with Sonia Gandhi when she claimed the support of 272 MPs in 1999. But then, in answer to all this, Akhilesh says why go back all the way to the past when you can remind me of Firozabad (in 2009, Congress party’s Raj Babbar defeated his wife Dimple in a by-poll from there). He claims that the time now is to look at the present and not the past. Well, that is political pragmatism for sure.

First Published | Monday | 20 February 2017 , 3:50 pm