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Akhilesh vs Mulayam: Mortal Combat

Time:2017-01-06 20:21Shoes websites Click:

Mulayam Singh Yadav Uttar Pradesh UP politics Samajwadi Party Akhilesh Yadav

In the Samajwadi Party, confusion reigns supreme. Speak to any SP leader in Lucknow, and he is just as clueless as the rest of the workers milling around—in protest or just to wait—the residence of either Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav or party founder Mulayam Singh Yadav, the battle between whom has torn the ruling party of Uttar Pradesh apart. The moment they hear of yet another patch-up meeting between Yadav Jr and his father, they start singing odes to the need of party unity for the future of the state. In dramatic developments over the turn of the year, the son appears to have rallied enough support within the SP to force its patriarch into a climb- down, making him rescind an order for his suspension from the party, but how all this will eventually play out remains a matter of speculation.

Jameel Ansari, a party worker from Ghazipur, says he reached Lucknow on the morning of December 31st soon after he heard of Akhilesh Yadav’s six-year expulsion. Since then, Ansari has followed a routine: his day starts at 8 am, when he leaves his guest house to take position outside 5 Kalidas Marg, the Chief Minister’s official residence, awaiting the arrival of his leader at 9 am from 4 Vikramaditya Marg, a recently acquired home. “Jai Akhilesh!” he cries as the vehicle approaches, trying to get as close as he can. He does this each time the convoy makes it way here. For the rest of his time, he tries to sneak into the frame of TV news cameras covering the country’s hottest family feud.

“Nothing seems to be final as of now,” laments Ansari, of the latest reconciliation effort, “Whatever the decision, they should stick to it rather than changing it every second day. We are confused. Right now, the party has no leader, no candidate. We don’t know if it will remain Samajwadi Party or become something else if the Election Commission decides to freeze the party symbol.”

With just a month to go before UP goes to the polls, the two wheels of that bicycle have been wrenched so hard in different directions that disarray rules the rank-and-file. There have been so many flip-flops among the warring sections led by Mulayam and Akhilesh that few even know who the party president at any given juncture is. Since either faction has ousted members of the other from the party, everyone is bewildered. “There is nothing to say on this except that we are damaging ourselves and giving the opposition a chance to emerge,” says veteran party leader and Rajya Sabha MP Beni Prasad Verma. The glum faces speak of exasperation. This was not something that happened overnight, and Samajwadi members had hoped that all differences would be resolved in good time to face the electorate. It was not to be.

Just a month before UP goes to the polls, the two wheels of SP’s symbolic bicycle have been wrenched so hard in different directions that disarray rules the rank-and-file

A feud was brewing ever since Akhilesh Yadav became Chief Minister in 2012. At the time, Mulayam’s brother Shivpal Yadav had opposed his nephew’s appointment, asking the founder of the 25-year-old party to assume the mantle himself since the electoral mandate was for him. Other party leaders and some first-time MLAs, however, were in Akhilesh’s favour, and he was the one who took oath. “Actually Shivpal was trying to be the second choice if Mulayam refused, and with Akhilesh getting the top post, Shivpal now carries a grudge [for being overlooked],” in the words of Ram Gopal Yadav, a Rajya Sabha MP and Akhilesh supporter, speaking to Open last November. In compensation, a number of ministries were allotted to Shivpal, including the powerful PWD portfolio, and he was allowed to function without any interference from Akhilesh.

In the early part of Akhilesh’s tenure, he found his office being remote run by his father who wanted to exercise control over his government by dictating not only policy decisions but also key official appointments. Insiders reveal that the Chief Minister was uncomfortable with this, but had to submit to the command of Netaji, as Mulayam is popularly called.

The first sign of trouble appeared after the 2014 General Election in which the SP won only five seats, all of them by Yadav family members. An upset Mulayam blamed Akhilesh for the dismal show and started taking digs at him at public gatherings. In deference to Netaji, the Chief Minister would respond with a smile whenever anyone asked about the barbs aimed at him. “He is my father and like every father he has a right to guide his son,” he would say. He maintained this stance for a long time, openly revising it only in September last year: “There are some people around Netaji who are constantly guiding him against me and forcing him to take decisions,” he said, “While I have full respect for Netaji, I won’t allow any outsider to come between father and son.”

The Chief Minister had named no one, but he was referring to Amar Singh, who was re-inducted into the party last May, unsettling many members—including Akhilesh. The villains of the split have since become clear on both sides. Yadav Jr’s camp blames Amar Singh for the unrest in the party, while Mulayam Singh supporters accuse Ram Gopal Yadav of ruining the party for his own political ambitions. “[Ram Gopal] is working with BJP and trying to save himself from the CBI,” alleges Shivpal Yadav of the leader who has been suspended from the party thrice in the past two months at Mulayam’s behest.

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