The Samajwadi Party (SP) seems to be undergoing a strange and continuing metamorphosis. It has gone from being the saviour of the Muslims to accusing those in riot relief camps of being conspirators, and not victims, to asking for Muslim leaders who incited violence in Muzaffarnagar to be let off. These mood swings indicate an element of desperation on the part of the SP, in particular its top leader Mulayam Singh Yadav.
Anyone inciting violence ought to be put behind bars and not extended immunity on grounds of belonging to any particular community. The fact that the tainted Muslim netas belong to the BSP and the Congress suggests that Mulayam Singh Yadav is hoping to eat into these vote-banks. By terming poor Muslim victims conspirators in the violence, he seems to be aiming to cut into the Hindutva vote-bank, no doubt fearful of a Modi wave in the state.
In all this, his son and chief minister Akhilesh Yadav is either complicit or helpless, further eroding his ability to call the shots. Communal passions are still simmering in the state and any attempt to let off anyone involved in the riots could lead to further violence. It is no secret that Yadav senior is still hoping to have a shot at being prime minister.
He feels that should a third front come into formation after the Lok Sabha polls, he would be a natural choice for the top job. But, given the mood of the nation today, he cannot hope to get there using the communal card. People are aggressively demanding accountability and good governance, neither of which the SP has been able to deliver in UP.
The Yadavs ought to be tackling the real problems facing the state, its poor development indicators for a start, instead of trying to stir the communal cauldron. The attempts to both pillory and appease the Muslims suggest that Mulayam Singh Yadav has lost the plot. But beyond keeping his eyes on the mirage of the throne in Delhi, both father and son seem oblivious to the needs of the people, most tragically the riot victims.