SP fared poorly in the only major election during its current rule in UP, when it was nearly routed in the April-May 2014 Lok Sabha elections due to the “Modi wave”. The party got reduced to just 5 LS seats compared to 23 in 2009.
However, the Assembly bypolls last month provided the saving grace for the party, when its candidates won 8 of the 11 seats.
SP, which has so far failed to make any significant mark on national politics, is faced with a resurgent Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the state. With the Narendra Modi government comfortably saddled in the Centre until 2019, SP has the onerous task of consolidating its vote bank before the 2017 state Assembly poll.
Besides, the generational shift in SP continues at a steady pace. The shift actually kicked off when party president Mulayam Singh Yadav anointed Akhilesh as the chief minister although some senior party leaders were against the idea.
Now, SP has only five elected members in Parliament and all of them belong to the Yadav clan, including Mulayam, his daughter-in-law Dimple, nephews Dharmendra and Akshay, and grandnephew Tej Pratap. This denotes a shrinking support base with the party just managing to hold fort on traditional pocket boroughs.
Juxtaposed to this backdrop, the three-day convention at the sprawling Janeshwar Mishra Park here assumes significance for SP to envision its future path and prepare for the 2017 polls.
“SP has so far witnessed a smooth generational shift that started with the crowing of Akhilesh. However, it is still in the transitory phase and now the party has the task of proving its relevance in national politics, especially post the LS polls drubbing,” political commentator Sudhir Panwar told Business Standard.
He said SP would now try to project itself as the only alternative to a stronger BJP in the state, which would face elections in 2017.
The convention has been organised on a grand scale, with arrangements being made to accommodate 10,000 people, including delegates from other states.
On the inaugural day, a 25-foot bronze statue of the late Janeshwar Mishra, a founding member of SP, would also be unveiled.