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BJP readies to rile Akhilesh

New Delhi, May 13: Narendra Modi confidant Amit Shah today said the Akhilesh Yadav-led government in Uttar Pradesh would lose its “moral authority” if the ruling Samajwadis were routed in the Lok Sabha elections.

Asked if the projected poor showing by the Samajwadis could impact the durability and viability of the state government, the BJP’s state minder said: “The government’s iqbal (moral authority) will go. I do not want to speak on the constitutional tenure of the government.”

The Akhilesh government has a majority and another three years to go. Samajwadi sources debunked Shah’s claim but conceded that if a high-profile contestant of their party suffered a “shock” defeat, it could set off rumblings.

The key Samajwadi contenders are mainly from Mulayam Singh Yadav’s family. The party chief is contesting from two seats, Mainpuri and Azamgarh. His daughter-in-law and Akhilesh’s wife Dimple is fighting to retain Kannauj, as is Mulayam’s nephew Dharmendra Yadav in Badaun. Akshaye Yadav, the son of Mulayam’s cousin and Rajya Sabha MP Ramgopal Yadav, is contesting from Firozabad.

The Samajwadis’ assessment is that while Mulayam will “sail through” in Mainpuri — his borough in west-central Uttar Pradesh — it’s a “tough” call in Azamgarh.

The biggest Samajwadi handicap was that its core Yadav supporters had deserted the party in varying measures. Two big reasons were cited. One, that the party had become a fief of Mulayam and his extended family. The other was a perception that the Akhilesh government pandered to minorities at the expense of the Yadavs.

A third factor was at play too: the belief that a vote for the Samajwadis amounted to a proxy vote for the Congress. As the party was not seen as a big player in the Delhi sweepstakes, many felt Mulayam would be the first to oblige if the Congress required the numbers for a majority. Given the general sentiment for a “change” at the Centre, such voters felt it would be imprudent to vote a Congress “B team”.

Akhilesh has faced no challenge to his government in his rule of over two years. But BJP sources said a “vastly improved” performance by the party would give them the “steel and the muscle” to take on the state government at every available opportunity.