If politicians were better actors than film stars, there could be reasons to believe that the entire SP drama was scripted by Mulayam Singh Yadav. The act may have been played out to silence opposition within the party and the family to his decision to hand over control of the party to his son Akhilesh Yadav.
Mulayam’s eyes were moist when he announced his son’s expulsion from the party on Friday. Akhilesh too cried for the second time on Saturday while telling supporters that he will win the 2017 polls and gift it to his father. The first time he got emotional was when he told his father, “It is your party, I say it to all.”
But the question is why did Mulayam allow a tear-jerker to take place when he could have resolved the contentious issues in his drawing room? The party literally came on the verge of a vertical split.
Senior socialist leader from Allahabad Vinod Dubey said, “It was not a drama but an ego clash. Some vested interests misguided Mulayam in believing that his son was challenging his authority and forcibly grabbing the party. However, when he realised that his son was only strengthening his legacy, he blinked.”
He quoted an Urdu couplet, “Siasat ke diye sabke hawale na karon, shahar ke shahar jal jaate hai ek shaks ki nadani mein” (Don’t handover the light of political power to all because one man’s idiocy can burn cities after cities)
However, Prof Rajesh Singh from Gorakhpur described it as a family drama that started after Akhilesh made a bid to take over six months back. “Mulayam judged the public sentiment and party pressure before calling for truce,” he added.
He insisted that though the party image may have temporarily suffered, the gains could be huge in the polls as a more assertive Akhilesh will enter the poll arena as its CM face.
There is also a view that the entire drama was staged to show a demanding Shivpal his place in the Samajwadi Party. “In one stroke, Mulayam has paved the way for Akhilesh’s undisputed control over the party which would not have been possible with his extended family also demanding their pound of flesh,” said a senior party leader.
“When people are ready to sacrifice their lives for a person, imagine the zealousness with which they will enter the battlefield to make Akhilesh the CM again,” said Dubey referring to the self-immolation bid by an Akhilesh supporter on Friday.
Perhaps, Mulayam wanted his demanding brother Shivpal to come out of his illusion of enjoying mass support in the party and the government.
It is generally believed that Shivpal, who has worked shoulder to shoulder with his brother Mulayam in raising the 25-year-old party, had more support in the party’s rank and file as compared to his nephew Akhilesh.
Now, with the scales heavily tilted in Akhilesh’s favour, both in the family and party, Mulayam will not have any guilt in handing over the reins of the party to his son. Party workers are likely to demand a senior party position for Akhilesh on Sunday.
In fact, from day one the war in the family has been over the control of the party than chief ministership of the state. Even after differences between uncle and nephew had come on the street six months back, both Shivpal and Amar Singh had declared Akhilesh as the party’s CM face. However, Mulayam maintained studied silence as he knew the tussle is not over the CM face but over who will succeed him. In other words, who will be the national president when he is not around.
Shivpal wanted the control of the party but Akhilesh was unrelenting. He repeatedly claimed that the party belongs to him and outsiders (as he refers to Amar Singh) should not interfere. Of late Shivpal and Amar Singh had grown very close.
In this game of one-upmanship, Akhilesh received overwhelming public support. But what raised eyebrows is the support he got from the MLAs and ministers. Could that have been possible without Mulayam’s covert support? How come none of the elected family members reached party office to attend a meeting called by Mulayam Singh? Of late, second generation leaders have been spotted more at Akhilesh’s functions.
There are many questions, the answers to which lie with Mulayam. One doubts if one will ever get to know them from the wrestler politician. If the party wins the 2017 polls, even his detractors would salute his acumen — the drama scripted or otherwise notwithstanding.