Around the time Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi embarked on mission UP about two years ago, Samajwadi Party state president Akhilesh Yadav, too, embarked on his political journey.
Yadav, however, had a battle of succession to fight before he arrived on the scene. Yadav senior, Mulayam, had years ago roped in brothers Shivpal and Ramgopal to strengthen his empire. And, they also served and stood and waited for their chance. But the son stood a better chance.
Yadav junior, who had no role in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections, except for taking a solo helicopter campaign tour of the state, was the man in-charge of ticket distribution in 2011.
And while the party officially continues to project old warhorse Mulayam as the next chief minister, buzz is that Akhilesh may be the man at the helm if the party comes close to forming the next government. That Yadav junior is calling the shots became clearer still on Friday. “Whomsoever the MLAs decide would be the CM and Akhilesh could also be the CM,” said leader of opposition Shivpal Yadav on TV. Indications had been there all along.
Who can forget a tearful Amar Singh blaming his fallout with mentor Mulayam, on Akhilesh’s increasing influence on his father?
The latest episode was the snub to west UP strongman DP Yadav, whose attempt to re-enter his old party was quashed by Akhilesh.
National spokesperson Mohan Singh lost his job to Ramgopal for publicly taking a different line than Akhilesh. And over the issue of inducting Hasanuddin, brother of BSP minister Naseemuddin Siddiqui, Akhilesh said, “If I say he is not in the party, he is not”.
The last few months have seen Akhilesh covering over 200 constituencies. That he holds his shows solo and doesn’t need a senior leader to shadow him signals a ‘son rise’. Will the party do an encore?