The two warring factions of the Samajwadi Party (SP) are at daggers drawn once again with its state president Shivpal Yadav and chief minister Akhilesh Yadav being on opposite sides as before.
The party’s national president Mulayam Singh Yadav, a wrestler in his youth, finds himself in the unenviable position of a match referee in a difficult bout in which one contender (Shivpal) is his brother and the other (Akhilesh) his son.
Akhilesh, who always wanted a say in ticket distribution, chose to come up with his own list of 403 candidates for as many assembly seats in the state on Sunday instead of being a mute spectator to his uncle Shivpal’s official list in which 175 candidates have been named.
The two contending lists have created fresh confusion about the candidature of those already named.
“Most of the adhikrit pratyashis (authorised candidates) are not sure if they will get to file nomination papers or will be replaced. The potential candidates listed by Bhaiya (Akhilesh Yadav) too cannot be sure if they will become candidates. There has been virtually no campaign worth its name by the SP candidates so far. On the other hand, the candidates of the rival political parties are pro-active,” an authorised SP candidate says.
Akhilesh on Sunday gave his list of candidates to Mulayam for consideration. It reportedly does not have the names of many of those to whom Shivpal gave tickets. The omissions include some sacked ministers, tainted sitting MLAs and criminals-turned-politicians.
“We have three kinds of candidates — Shivpal camp followers, Akhilesh loyalists, and fence sitters. We have authorised candidates, proposed candidates, and ticket seekers. Isn’t it unprecedented?” a senior party leader, who is not a ticket seeker, asks.
Shivpal calls his list of candidates potential winners. Akhilesh makes the same claim about his list.
A crowd of authorised candidates and ticket seekers waited for an audience with the top leaders at the party’s state headquarters and Mulayam’s residence on Monday. The tension was writ large on their faces.
They were also worried about the talk of SP’s proposed alliance with the Congress.
“The talks about an alliance have added to the uncertainty. If an agreement happens, the SP will concede to the Congress a bulk of those seats that the party (SP) did not win in 2012. This means that the 175 authorised candidates can’t step up canvassing,” the senior leader adds.
The party has not started declaring candidates on the seats it had won in 2012.
After the feud came out in the open in September this year, the party put up a brave front and said: “All is well in the party and the government ... The family is united.”
Now, the refrain is: “Netaji (Mulayam) will sort out everything.”
With the assembly poll schedule likely to be announced soon and the feud intensifying, the party workers are losing hope of a satisfactory resolution of the dispute.
Mulayam is said to be heavily tilted towards Shivpal’s camp. He did not take even a single pro-Akhilesh decision, party insiders and political observers have said.
Over a fortnight ago, he nominated Amar Singh as a parliamentary board member. On Sunday, he elevated tainted minister Gayatri Prasad Prajapati to the party national general secretary’s position.
Clearly, the ball is in Mulayam’s court.