The on-going family feud in the Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh has taken the political undercurrents in the poll-bound state into a new level.
The SP that was dreaming of sticking to the power by forming an alliance with Congress and other parties in the upcoming Assembly elections is now in the verge of a split, all thanks to the feud between ‘Netaji’ Mulayam Singh Yadav and his son, Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav. It was Mulayam who made the entry of Akhilesh into the Parliament a grand success by giving him the sure-seat of Kannauj constituency in 2000 Lok Sabha polls. But the veteran leader is all heartbroken as the very son has now become his political terminator. However, what Akhilesh says is that he is in a political mission to save Mulayalm and the party from the conspirators ‘who are trying to weaken Netaji and the SP.
The feud in Uttar Pradesh’s first family began in September last year after Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav removed uncle Shivpal Yadav from all portfolios including that of SP’s state unit president. With that incident, the party had figuratively split into two camps – a camp of Mulayam and Shivpal and another group of Akhilesh supporters. The feud reached a serious level after Mulayam announced the names of 325 party candidates of the upcoming Assembly elections without consultation with CM Akhilesh. In an act of defiance that led to a ‘war’, Akhilesh released his own list of candidates. Widening the split, Netaji expelled Akhilesh and party general secretary Ramgopal Yadav from the party for six years over alleged indiscipline only to revoke the expulsion the next day. But in a move that surprised Mulayam, Akhilesh declared himself top boss in place of his father at a massive show of strength in a public ground in Lucknow. Akhilesh camp also proposed that 77-year-old Mulayam should now play the role of mentor. The two are now ready to move ahead in two different paths.
The functioning style of Akhilesh, who was sworn in as the youngest Chief Minister of UP, was not familiar to the Malla-politics of Mulayam Singh Yadav. He chose a path different from that of his father who relied on muscle power and power brokers to expand the party; he replaced gang leaders with professionals in party posts. Unlike his father who was dependent on Yadav-Muslim votes, Akhilesh became a ‘hope’ and an icon of younger generation by his deeds such as distribution of Laptops through party offices; he could gain the support of rural-urban UP by his promises of job opportunities to the young. At the same time, he cared to place the veteran leaders of his father’s generation at appropriate posts. However, in appeasement-politics, Akhilesh followed his father’s footsteps – he appeared to stand with both the parties in Muzaffarnagar riots case and Dadri beef case.
He was in an effort to gain the power in the state once again by presenting himself as the leader of development. He had even laid out a plan to create job opportunities for the youth and to develop the basic amenities in the state. It was then the ‘stab’ came from his father. By moving against Amar Singh and Shivpal Yadav, he proved that he realized the ‘conspiracy’ of the duo to create enmity between the father and the son. Mulayam’s sudden move to cancel the party convention held on Thursday shows that he has no other option but to accept the fact that his party is with Akhilesh, almost entirely. The split is certain with Mulayam approaching the Election Commission (EC) to stake claim over the party’s election symbol – the bicycle.
Foreseeing the Assembly elections, the SP had, during its Silver Jubillee celebrations in last November, announced a Golden Alliance with Rashtriya Janata Dal, Janata Dal (Secular), Rashtriya Lok Dal, and Indian National Lok Dal. The announcement was an effort by Mulayam to prevent Mayawati-led Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) from gaining power as it was going ahead gathering Dalit-Muslim votes. Also, Mulayam must have realized that the SP government that was submerged in the family feud had not satisfied the Yadav-Muslim vote bank in the state. The Muslim community that looks forward to prevent BJP from gaining momentum by playing the Hindu card as it did in the 2014 Parliament elections, considers BSP as a comparatively better option. Therefore, what the BJP is trying in UP is to neglect the BSP and project the SP as its main opponent so that it can divide the Muslim-backward votes. That is why Mayawati said that the SP and the BJP, although indirectly, are in a ‘friendly match’. The present feud in the SP is a blow to that political trick of the BJP. If Mulayam and Akhilesh choose different paths, they will have to adopt a clear-cut approach towards the BJP. That would be a deciding factor in the elections. Therefore, not only the ‘fighters’ but also the ‘viewers’ are cautious as well about the new family feud in the UP politics.