After a fresh, intense round of infighting in the Samajwadi Parivar, Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav's popularity ratings in relation to his father and uncle have increased, a HuffPost-CVoter snap poll shows.
The poll results show an upswing in favour of Akhilesh Yadav, over his already high ratings found in a HuffPost-CVoter snap poll conducted exactly a month ago.
The poll asked: Between the SP leaders Akhilesh Yadav and Shivpal Yadav, who do you think is more popular? In September, 77% respondents had said Akhilesh. This time, the number has gone up to 83%. Interestingly, most of this 6% gain came from those who had chose 'Can't say' or 'None of the Above' last month. Shivpal Yadav's already abysmal ratings came down marginally, from 6.9% to 6.1%.
The further consolidation of Akhilesh Yadav over undecided voters underlines what Akhilesh Yadav has meant to the Samajwadi Party: a fresh young face who's won over supporters from beyond the traditional Muslim and Yadav vote-blocks. However, these numbers reflect Akhilesh's popularity only vis-à-vis other Samajwadi leaders, and not relative to other parties in the state.
Between father and son for CM face, Akhilesh's popularity went up from 67% to 76%, a 9% swing. Mulayam Singh Yadav's popularity went down from 19% to 15%. Once again, Akhilesh's gains came more from those who had declined to take sides in the September poll.
Broadly, the more educated a respondent was, the more likely she was to support Akhilesh. Post-graduates and professionals were Akhilesh's biggest supporters against his father. Only 14% postgraduates and only 4% professionals preferred Mulayam as a CM face.
Akhilesh isn't popular only amongst the youth. In fact, a greater percentage of respondents in the 35-45 age group supported Akhilesh, than those younger than them. Even amongst those above 55 years of age, 70% supported Akhilesh, and only 17.5% supported Mulayam.
For voters, the biggest concern about the Samajwadi Party has been its encouragement of criminals. Law and order is often a top issue in Uttar Pradesh elections. Many voters feel Akhilesh Yadav is trying to change his party's image as a 'gunda' party.
The second round of infighting in the Samajwadi family has only strengthened Akhilesh Yadav's image as a man out to improve law and order. Of the respondents, 68% said he was trying to get rid of the gunda image, up from 62% in September. The number of those who thought he is not only trying but has in fact been successful in changing the gunda image, went up from 24% to 29%. The percentage of those who felt Akhilesh didn't really intend to reduce the goondaism associated with his party, went down from 24% to 17%.
Should Akhilesh allow leaders like DP Yadav and Mukhtar Ansari to join SP? These are leaders with several criminal cases against them.
Those who felt he shouldn't allow them in, went up from 60.7% to 63.2%. The gains, once again, came from those who had earlier said 'can't say'.
It couldn't be any clearer who the beneficiary of the Samajwadi family feud is. Such high ratings for Akhilesh Yadav would make it difficult for anyone, including his father, to displace him as the face of the party.
Akhilesh Yadav in the meanwhile released a campaign video for the upcoming polls. Significantly, it doesn't feature his father or uncle, and prominently features himself and his wife Dimple Yadav.