Chief minister Akhilesh Yadav referred to expelled leader Amar Singh as his uncle yet again on Monday, nearly a month after winning a long battle for control over the Samajwadi Party.
This is being seen as an attempt by Akhilesh – also the party’s national president – to keep his flock together, considering that he had vowed to not use the term for Amar at the height of the family feud three months ago.
Speaking at a conclave organised by a Hindi television channel, he also referred to his father – Mulayam Singh Yadav – as a “samajwadi (socialist) who expresses his anger in public and private alike”. Then, in a more emotional reference to the problems that have arisen in their relationship, Akhilesh mused: “I have been wondering… will I ever get this angry with my son?”
Akhilesh refused to accept Amar’s statement on Sunday that he had been expelled from the Samajwadi Party, and “was now a stray bull that’s free to graze anywhere it pleases”.
“No, he cannot say this. He was good. I know him well. You will see that he loves us all,” said Akhilesh in his first public interaction ever since he took over as the party national president in a political coup on January 1.
The interaction also served as a platform for Akhilesh to display his keen sense of humour. The chief minister – at one point – quipped that he was being asked too many uncomfortable questions, and he would stick to “reading the party manifesto” if that continued.
“I have crammed it (the manifesto) up. After all, I have to speak on it every day for a whole month,” he remarked.
When asked if he intended to make peace with estranged uncle Shivpal Yadav, Akhilesh said: “As far as my relationship with him as chacha-bhatija is concerned, it will never break. But when it comes to politics, I must say that I have principles too. I have put it (the feud) behind, and I am looking only towards the upcoming polls and campaign. I have to get the support of even those who have been denied tickets.”
“Everybody who has left the party will have to come back,” he added.
Akhilesh claimed his electoral battle will be fought – and won – on the development plank. “People who sell dreams but don’t fulfill them will lose. Why will people not vote for the life-changing promises that we are making? Why will a woman not vote for us if we make her life easier by giving her a pressure cooker? Anyone who travels on the Agra-Lucknow expressway will vote for us. All those who got laptops, all those whose lives were saved because of 108 ambulances, all those who will soon travel on the Metro, will vote for us,” he said.
Akhilesh rejected statements that he had fought and defeated Mulayam to wrest control over the party. “I have never fought since childhood,” he said. “I have been a sportsperson. Whichever game I play, I play well.”
The chief minister said the party belonged to his father, and his principles were the same as the ones that Mulayam founded it on. “I only tweaked and upgraded his socialism with the changing times. Socialism means bridging the gaps. Socialism means bridging the divide between urban and rural, between rich and poor.”
Akhilesh exuded confidence that the Samajwadi Party would get a majority on its own. “And, with the Congress, we will cross 300 seats,” he said.