Tussle in UP’s first family may prove costly for SP ahead of polls

  • Sunita Aron, Hindustan Times, Lucknow
  • Updated: Aug 17, 2016 01:05 IST
Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, left, and UP CM Akhilesh Yadav, third from right, in Lucknow on Monday. (PTI Photo)

Six months ahead of the crucial UP elections, the intensified tussle in the first family of the state is nothing short of a political hara-kiri.

This is not the first time when the party’s founder president Mulayam Singh Yadav has publicly pulled up his chief minister son Akhilesh Yadav. What perhaps he did for the first time was that he himself substantiated the growing rift in the family that he has been so secretive about so far.

His outburst has only established what till then was dismissed by the party as mere conjecture – differences between his son Akhilesh and his cabinet minister brother Shivpal Singh Yadav. His admission that his brother had twice offered to quit confirms what the opposition has been predicting – split in the party, if not now, later.

However, those who know Mulayam well, insist that he will never allow it to happen. While many believe Mulayam could have sorted out the issues in his drawing room, others describe it as his strategic drama.

The political equation in the Yadav family has been far from smooth from day one. A group in the family wanted Mulayam to take over the reins while the patriarch.

Though there were no upheavals on the surface, discontent continued to simmer as Mulayam, torn between son and brother, struggled with a balancing act. Shivpal, who had been a co-pilot of Mulayam’s poll chariots since the party’s formation, nevertheless felt betrayed. He also harboured the desire to be the CM. The real tussle is, however, over ticket distribution. On the surface, four major issues are in discussion.

First, the appointment of chief secretary Deepak Singhal. Akhilesh had reservations and while signing on the dotted lines, he had appointed Alok Ranjan, the outgoing chief secretary, as his advisor and assigned him completion of his pet projects.

Second, the merger of Quami Ekta Dal, founded by by Afzal Ansari, brother of incarcerated mafia don Mukhtar Ansari. Shivpal had announced the merger, which was opposed by Akhilesh and revoked. According to speculations Mulayam may soon announce the merger.

Third, the alliance move with the RLD of Choudhury Ajit Singh. While Shivpal visited Ajit Singh’s home, Ram Gopal Yadav had publicly opposed it. The talks had to be shelved. Then it was Rajya Sabha ticket to Amar Singh, which was opposed by Ram Gopal Yadav and Azam Khan. Akhilesh was also not in favour but decided to go along with the decision.

Allahabad-based socialist leader Vinod C Dubey, who knows Mulayam since his young days, says, “Mulayam is right now working on a strategy of regional polarisation of votes by having an electoral understanding with satraps of that region, irrespective of their background.”

KS Rana, describes the whole thing as a drama enacted strategically to offset anti-incumbency. “Mulayam always has his fingers on the public pulse, he is not running down his son but trying to arrest the declining image of the party. Why are they talking only about land grabbing and not law and order?”

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