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Home » India » Akhilesh Vs Tejashvi: Common Rival In BJP, But Election Strategies Of SP And RJD Poles Apart


Akhilesh Vs Tejashvi: Common Rival In BJP, But Election Strategies Of SP And RJD Poles Apart

Despite being politically senior, Akhilesh Yadav has much to learn from Tejashwi Yadav.

Akhilesh Yadav has much to learn from Tejashwi Yadav.

New Delhi: Akhilesh Yadav, the man leading the Samajwadi Party campaign to oust the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) from power in Uttar Pradesh, and Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Tejashwi Yadav in neighbouring Bihar have much in common.

Their fathers have been the chief ministers of their respective states and also handled crucial portfolios at the Centre. Akhilesh’s father Mulayam Singh Yadav and Tejashwi’s father Lalu Prasad Yadav were key members of the Janata Dal. Both of them broke away from the Janata Dal to form their own respective political outfits.

While Mulayam founded the Samajwadi Party, an outfit confined to Uttar Pradesh, Lalu formed the Rashtriya Janata Dal in Bihar. Their sons have followed their paths into the political landscape.

But with both the elder Yadavs almost out of political limelight, their sons have taken the centre stage to carry forward their legacies.

Akhilesh and Tejashwi have one more commonality, they also share the same formidable political rival — BJP.

Yet, there is one factor which sets them apart. While in the Bihar Assembly elections 2020, Tejashwi forced the BJP to follow the agenda set by him, Akhilesh is still lagging behind in coming up with his own programme.

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Tejashwi Kept Lalu Out of Political Discussion

During the Bihar Assembly election in 2020, where Lalu Yadav in jail in a fodder scam case, Tejashwi did not use his father’s clout while campaigning. He laid a solid strategy that worked wonders and forced even a political stalwart like PM Narendra Modi had to work harder to ensure votes for the BJP.

Tejashwi left behind all the top leaders from the rival parties in holding political rallies and connected with the masses. With barbs of jungle raj against Lalu Prasad and RJD’s rule flying thick and fast, Tejashwi ensured that his campaign did not centre around Lalu. Initially, analysts and strategists claimed that Tejashwi was too much of a greenhorn and leaving Lalu out from his campaign would be disastrous, but as the election season progressed, the massive crowds and huge response forced then to acknowledge his strategy. He took away the focus from Lalu Prasad’s tenure which many remember as ‘jungle raj‘, and formed his image which was very different from the scam-ridden identity of his father’s political career.

Tejashwi Raised Issues and Public Concerns But Did Not Deviate From The Strategy

Tejashwi Yadav raised various issues of public concerns like unemployment, medical infrastructure and migration throughout the election but at the same time did not let his election strategy go astray. He kept the focus on issues like education, employment, government jobs, youth migration, and basic facilities. This was miles away from the India vs Pakistan, Hindu-Muslim or Lalu Prasad’s jungle raj rehtoric by the BJP. Soon, BJP and Nitish Kumar were forced to talk on the same issues.

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ALSO READ: Ex-Congress And SP MLAs Join BJP Ahead Of UP Assembly Polls

Tejashwi Yadav’s Quick Wit

Another crowd pulling trait that Tejashwi Yadav showed was his quick wit in answering questions. Any political swipe or comment meant for him was met with an equally profound answer. His witty and accurate answer became famous when when PM Modi called Tejashwi Yadav the Yuvraj of Jungle Raj. When journalists questioned him, Tejashwi Yadav said, “He is the PM of the country and can say anything. However, he did not say anything on issues like Bihar’s special package, unemployment, hunger, employment, government jobs.”

While campaigning in Vaishali district, Nitish Kumar made a personal comment on Lalu Prasad’s family. He had said those who gave birth to 8-9 children have no say in development of Bihar. Tejashwi replied, “Nitish Kumar is now mentally tired. He is attacking us but forgot that our PM Narendra Modi too have 6-7 siblings.”

But a close look at Tejashwi’s campaign and how Akhilesh is running the show, reveals a stark difference between the two.

Akhilesh was on back foot during ‘Jinnah’ episode

While Tejashwi Yadav has successfully forced BJP to come and bat on his pitch, Akhilesh Yadav was seen following the BJP after he equated Muhammad Ali Jinnah with Mahatma Gandhi. Akhilesh Yadav was avoiding taking on the BJP especially on the Jinnah controversy. Soon after his colleague Omprakash Rajbhar made the matters worse by praising Jinnah.

Renaming cities

Akhilesh Yadav made headlines after he raised objections about the cities whose names were changed by the BJP. He said that after coming to power, the party will revert to old names. Akhilesh Yadav tried to steal the limelight with this statement, but found himself entangled in another matter. BJP not only highlighted his take on the issue but used it against him to polarise votes in Uttar Pradesh. The BJP responded aggressively to Akhilesh Yadav, and it has remained alive so far and may benefit BJP during the Febuary elections.

Direct attack on PM Narendra Modi

Tejashwi stayed away from directly attacking PM Modi during the entire Bihar Assembly election campaign. Even West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee and Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal had refrained from attacking PM Modi during the elections in their respective states.

However, Akhilesh Yadav is yet to learn from them. PM Modi, an experienced orator, can turn the tide of elections as soon as there is a political attack on him. Sonia Gandhi’s “merchant of death” jibe, Mani Shankar Aiyar’s neech comment, all have been used by PM Modi to his advantage. Even Rahul Gandhi’s ‘Chowkidar Chor Hai‘ during the 2019 Lok Sabha election campaign backfired miserably.

Akhilesh on the other hand made fun of the security lapse during PM Modi’s visit to Punjab. He also commented on the Prime Minister’s Kashi visit and said that people come to Kashi as their final resting place.

What should Akhilesh Yadav do?

Political experts say that at this time Akhilesh Yadav should take a page from Tejashwi’s poll campaign and raise issues like unemployment, police harassment, irregularities in recruitments, paper leaks, instead of directly attacking PM Modi. 

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This is what Tejashwi did and he then forced the BJP and a veteran leader like Nitish Kumar to follow his agenda. Although he lost the election, he proved his mettle and his leadership capability during the election.

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