The Samajwadi Party, founded in 1992 by Mulayam Singh Yadav, who formed the outfit after quitting Chandrashekhar’s Janata Dal (Socialist), is contesting the 2019 Lok Sabha polls in alliance with arch-rival Bahujan Samaj Party.
Prior to establishing the Samajwadi Party, Yadav had previously run a government in Uttar Pradesh as a member of Janata Dal (Socialist) with the support of the Congress. However, the state government fell as the Congress withdrew its support. This led to the formation of Samajwadi Party. The party’s main aim was to establish its position as a major force in Uttar Pradesh.
In 1993, the Samajwadi party formed an alliance with the Bahujan Samaj Party to keep the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) from returning to power in the state. It was successful in doing so and Mulayam Singh Yadav became the chief minister. However, this government fell as the Congress again withdrew support. The party continued its struggle in the state, even as the chief minister's chair was taken in turns by the SP and BSP until 2017.
The party suffered a major defeat in the Lok Sabha polls of 2014, which was swept by the BJP not only in Uttar Pradesh but across India, riding mainly on the so-called ‘Modi wave’. Subsequently, the fate of the Samajwadi Party in the state elections of 2017 was not much different. The loss of the 2017 Assembly polls was also the result of a family feud, with Mulayam Singh Yadav and his brother Shivpal on the one side and son Akhilesh (then the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh) on the other along with cousin Ram Gopal Yadav. The differences were over running of the party’s operations.
Subsequently, Akhilesh took over as the president of the party, Mulayam became its chairman, Shivpal was expelled, and Ram Gopal was first expelled and then taken back into the Samajwadi Party.
The party is strong in Uttar Pradesh and other regions of the Hindi heartland: At present, it has 5 seats in the Lok Sabha, and 80 in the Uttar Pradesh Vidhan Sabha. Among its key leaders apart from the Yadav father-son duo are Azam Khan and Akhilesh’s wife Dimple Yadav.