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Tale of political families, their friends and feuds

lucknow Updated: Jan 06, 2017 23:36 IST
Sunita Aron
Yadav family

In happier days. (HT File Photo)

Power transfer in dynasties has rarely been smooth across the country and the latest to go into the pages of history will be the Yadav family feud.

SP strongman Mulayam Singh Yadav, whose acumen was lauded in 2012 for the smooth transition of power to his then ‘inexperienced’ son, is now facing flak for making political succession turbulent for his son, who has since grown ‘popular’. Less than five years back many regional parties were infested with succession wars -- DMK, RJD, Shiv Sena and NCP to name a few.

There are many analogies of the ongoing feud in the Yadav family, the closest one being from Andhra Pradesh and then from UP itself, involving none other than the politician-wrestler Mulayam Singh himself.

Ironically, the senior Yadav, who tirelessly talks about the great break-ups in political parties he has been witness to, has preferred to sacrifice his own 25-year-old party for some friends and family members and, in the process, strike a blow to the impressive constituency he had assiduously built over the years.

Andhra Pradesh may be about 1700 kms away from Lucknow, but Baghpat is located in UP where Mulayam often describes how he had fallen victim to conspiracies.

It was in 1984 when Choudhary Ajit Singh had returned to the country without any political ambitions. His father and founder president of Bhartiya Lok Dal Charan Singh had already declared Mulayam his political heir.

According to KC Rana’s book on Charan Singh several politicians strongly lobbied against Mulayam and propped up the then politically naïve Ajit Singh to take over his father’s legacy.

Some well-wishers of the party, however, organised a meeting between Ajit and Mulayam in which it was decided that while Ajit will take the national position and Mulayam will continue to lead Uttar Pradesh.

But some leaders, hell-bent on stonewalling any rapprochement between the two leaders, did not allow this formula to fructify and in the process Lok Dal, which was emerging as a national party with wings in several states, split.

Ajit political heir Jayant Choudhury declined to comment on the history while admitting that his father has shared all the milestones, including his initial days in politics.

When some old friends of Mulayam were trying for a patch-up between him and his son Akhilesh, many from both sides in the family and followers, were busy sabotaging it.

A very senior leader, who had taken Mulayam’s nod to attend the national convention called by Akhilesh faction on the first day of the year, had said confidently that he knew for sure that a formula was worked out.

According to him even Mulayam was ready to attend the convention but stayed back home when told about the resolution electing Akhilesh as party’s new president. The senior leader said, “There is no confusion in Mulayam’s mind about his successor or chief ministerial face, but he doesn’t want to upset some by announcing it now.”

Akhilesh faction, while insisting it is matter of the ‘Akhilesh’s political career as well as the party’s future’ demand to expose the saboteurs.

Comparing denial of Charan Singh’s mantle to Mulayam with Yadav’s feud, a political commentator quipped “What goes around comes around too.”

The second analogy in discussion is from Andhra Pradesh, as many see the aspirations of Mulayam’s extended family behind the impasse. This could be because Telugu Desham leader NT Rama Rao had also married a second time to Lakshmi Parvarthi. Many in the party had resisted her interference in government functioning.

Mulayam’s second wife Sadhna Gupta’s, now Yadav, public appearances were limited to family functions. Ever since the family tussle started, her name has been figuring in political circles.

However, in Andhra it was not the son but the son-in-law Chandrababu Naidu who had staged a coup unseating his father-in-law and TDP patriarch NT Rama Rao from CM’s office. Many family members had supported Naidu, just as Akhilesh is supported by uncle Prof Ram Gopal Yadav and cousins. Publicly Mulayam is seen only with Shivpal and his son Aaditya Yadav.

While taking over the party Naidu had also declared that he was trying to save his party, just as Akhilesh has been saying that he will gift victory of the party to his father .

After NTR’s death, his group was led by Laxmi Parvathi, which could make no electoral gains, while Naidu formed the government in 1999 and became its undisputed leader. Naidu had also won the symbol battle because of the support of party’s legislators and leaders. Shivpal may meet Laxmi’s fate, if he doesn’t patch up with Akhilesh, before or after the polls.

Mulayam, who has led opposition politics in the country, knew both NT Rama Rao and Naidu. Why he is unwilling to pick up a lesson is known to none except that he is hurt enough to hear the other side of the story.

The cycle that he told his son to learn and ride is likely to get lost in the files of Election Commission. What a coincidence, even TDP’s symbol is cycle.

Read more: Why UP matters: Can India’s most populous state decide the fate of Delhi?