31 October, 2020

A Passing Rumour Heard On The Radio?

Brand Akhilesh was second to none—in publicity, that is. Till the results came.

Akhilesh Yadav’s rath being repaired after a snag during his party’s UP assembly poll yatra in Lucknow
Photograph by PTI
A Passing Rumour Heard On The Radio?

When results were out on the elections to the 17th Uttar Pradesh assembly, the Gomti by Lucknow retained its end-winter calm—in stark contrast was the shock the Samajwadi Party got from the voters of the state. The SP, in a nascent alliance with the Congress, mustered just 54 of the 403 seats, implying that much of the gargantuan poll expenses by outgoing chief minister Akhilesh Yadav had gone down the river.

Five years ago, in the 2012 assembly polls, Akhilesh had won a decisive majority of 224 seats, leading the party’s campa­ign and selling himself as a youth leader. That rosy story hit the Narendra Modi wave two years later; the SP slumped to only five out of UP’s 80 LS seats. Still, he moved into the latest poll with new wind in his sail and a new narrative spun around himself—a bruising battle with the old guard in the SP part of it. With a tie-up with his young peer in the Congress, he deigned to be the main rival to the BJP.

But this narrative was built on the back of a massive ad cam­paign, speculated to have cost hundreds of...



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