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Heartland duo in poll purge

- Samajwadi strips 36 leaders of govt posts, Maya scraps panels
Akhilesh Yadav leaves after attending the cabinet meeting
in Lucknow on Tuesday. (PTI)

Lucknow, May 20: Uttar Pradesh rivals Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) today unleashed a purge after their poll rout, sacking leaders in ministerial-level posts by the dozen and scrapping party panels across the board.

The action came days after the BJP landslide shook several states, including neighbouring Bihar where Nitish Kumar quit over his party’s poor showing in the Lok Sabha polls.

Mulayam Singh Yadav’s ruling Samajwadi Party sent packing 36 leaders who had been appointed heads of state corporations — enjoying minister of state or cabinet ranks — while BSP chief Mayawati dissolved all party panels. “These leaders failed miserably to mobilise support for our candidates in their areas,” said a senior Samajwadi leader.

Chief minister Akhilesh Yadav said today: “Our candidates lost because the party failed to communicate to voters the welfare projects of our government.” He was speaking after his first cabinet meeting since the results on Friday that saw his party’s MP tally plunge from 23 in 2009 to five. All five are Yadav family members.

Mayawati

Today’s crackdown followed a review yesterday, attended by Akhilesh and father Mulayam, who had been nursing ambitions of being Prime Minister in a possible third front government.

Akhilesh ruled out his resignation. “Uttar Pradesh’s political situation cannot be compared with that of Bihar or any other state,” he said, asked if he was ready to follow Nitish’s example and step down. He said the reasons behind the poor performance were being “studied in detail”.

Mulayam, however, sought to suggest the Lok Sabha results were not a reflection on the performance of his party or the Akhilesh government.

“The two elections are different. But it is time we take a hard look at reality, reach out to our grassroot workers and tell them we will roar back soon,” a Samajwadi source quoted Mulayam as telling workers in yesterday’s review.

The numbers seem to belie Mulayam’s contention. An internal analysis of the Lok Sabha results indicated that Samajwadi candidates led in only 37 Assembly segments. In 2012, the party had bagged 224 seats in the 406-member Assembly.

If Samajwadi bigwigs spoke of a “detailed review”, Mayawati did not feel the need to wait that long. The BSP chief, whose party drew a blank, dissolved party committees at the Assembly, district and state levels after a preliminary review today. The BSP had 20 MPs in the 15th Lok Sabha.

For some, the anger spilled on to the streets. One BSP leader who sought to submit a petition warning the party chief to stem the slide was showered with blows and not allowed to attend the meeting.

The Dalit leader, who could not be identified, was thrown out of the BSP office but his supporters outside raised slogans against Mayawati. “Behenji suno Daliton ki pukaar, nahi to khatam ho jayega janadhar (Sister, please pay heed to the voice of the Dalits or your support base will be wiped out),” they screamed.

Yogesh Kumar Dwivedi, the BSP’s Mathura candidate who lost to Hema Malini, was not allowed to enter the office initially, prompting him to protest outside. Senior leaders later intervened and took him inside.