How could a seasoned warhorse Mulayam Singh Yadav do this to his family, party and above all himself in the twilight of his political career? This is the question uppermost and rankling many a minds not only in poll bound Utter Pradesh but all over the country.
The Samajwadi Party conundrum was getting shriller by the day but with a corollary offering glimmer of a hope for a final patch up between warring father Mulayam Singh Yadav and son chief minister Akhilesh Yadav. The premise on which this hope floated was that the entire episode was a pre-fabricated drama intended at giving ‘Tipu’ aka Akhilesh a platform not only to generate public sympathy but also ride roughshod over his jilted uncles Shivpal Singh Yadav and Amar Singh.
Yes the possibility of a pre-planned drama enactment cannot be ruled as it has happened many times in Indian polity. And then the Samajwadi Party founder Mulayam Singh Yadav is a past master in the art of political theatrics.
Equally significant is the fact that many a time such pre-meditated scripts have gone awry and flew out of the control of writer/director. The most glaring ones being the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s alleged Bhindaranwale experimentation and subsequently her daughter-in-law Sonia Gandhi’s decision to install P V Narsimha Rao as Prime Minister.
One is of the firm belief that the Samajwadi Party script was neither pre-planned nor pre-meditated. It did not happen suddenly as was brewing over the months. If one is to believe that the entire episode beginning in Lucknow and ultimately shifting to the annals of Election Commission of India for fight over resting the party symbol has a stage-managed affair aimed at giving Akhilesh sway over all others, then it was superbly enacted. The natural outcome then would be that the National School of Drama and film industry should fold and make way for the Yadav (read Mulayam Singh) clan, as they would fall on bad days.
The backdrop to this fight is the intense power struggle within the Yadav family over who would be the rightful owner of Yadav senior’s political and family legacy. Of late Mulayam Singh Yadav has been finding himself trapped in a cobweb and cross connections of his own making. Perhaps he thought that son Akhilesh would continue following his dictates, sometimes mindless and at other feudal in nature, to extricate him out of the mess. Little did the ‘pehlwan’ of yore realise that apart from being his son, Akhilesh was also a very successful chief minister and a politician in his own right now. An unblemished record of five years as CM with development rather than caste manipulation being his plank, made Akhilesh what even his father would not have imagined as the old wily fox refuses to acknowledge anyone else’s administrative or political acumen other than his own. If it was a premeditated script, it has certainly gone sour. The events which vigorously unfolded just days ahead of the election announcement have though not come unannounced but made the going tough for whatever new shape the Samajwadi Party takes.
One singular achievement of the party bickering is that Akhilesh has emerged out of the shadow of his father. What better testimony to it than most of the old Mulayam loyalists and founding members of Samajwadi Party publically siding with the son in this fight of one-upmanship.
Ostensibly, the old brigade has quickly fathomed that future of the party they founded lies with Akhilesh and not Mulayam. They detested the flashpoint occurring on the eve of Assembly elections, but were forced to take a more realistic than emotional stand.
Mulayam Singh Yadav is deeply hurt at heart, as never before had anyone challenged his authority so brazenly as his son. But the way Akhilesh ruled the state and display of matured political acumen by him should also be comforting his father in his heart of hearts. He might not realise it now in the heat of things but realisation is bound to come soon.
The father-son feud has certainly heated up the poll scene with rival parties fathoming their chances in different manners and reworking their strategies. Whatever be the shape of the Samajwadi Party, the fact of the matter is that for all practical purposes the focus would shift from father to the son. Akhilesh would have the onerous task to ensure victory of the Samajwadi thought amidst the crisis.
Despite a possible split, Akhilesh would be no pushover for the rival political parties. Whether he leads his faction of Samajwadis to victory or not? This is a significant question awaiting an answer. But what is even more important that the young chief minister in his early 40s has firmly placed himself on the political map of UP.
A victory, which cannot be ruled out if he strikes the right alliances, under these trying circumstances would elevate him manifold. Apart from alliances, his strongest point would be his popularity among the youth and younger set of voters. This popularity, if kept intact, would be all pervading over a polity hitherto based on religion and caste.
The writing was clear on the wall but Mulayam Singh Yadav refused to read. It would be ironic if he decides to fight a war to finish with his promising son rather than targeting his ideological rival BJP.