HT analysis | Yadav family feud: Damage irreversible, now SP govt at stake

Succession battles in political families are rarely smooth. DMK patriarch Karunanidhi has passed the party’s baton by and large comfortably to his son MK Stalin, but Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, caught between his demanding brother and son, has failed miserably.

YadavFamilyFeud Updated: Oct 24, 2016 01:53 IST
Sunita Aron
Sunita Aron
Hindustan Times
Yadav family feud,Mulayam Singh Yadav,Akhilesh Yadav
Akhilesh Yadav's supporters protest against Amar Singh in Lucknow on Sunday. (Deepak Gupta/HT Photo)

Succession battles in political families are rarely smooth. DMK patriarch Karunanidhi has passed the party’s baton by and large comfortably to his son MK Stalin, but Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, caught between his demanding brother and son, has failed miserably.

The SP power struggle has split the Yadav family and the 25-year-old party, which is gearing up for silver jubilee celebrations. Party seniors who had judiciously kept out of the feud woke up late. Their efforts yielded no result.

The issues are not limited to the chief ministerial-candidate for the 2017 polls, but the role of outsiders in party affairs, ticket distribution and control over the party.

At stake now is the government that Mulayam’s son, Akhilesh Yadav, heads. Will Mulayam, an astute politician, ensure fall of his own party’s government or manipulate installation of his brother, Shivpal Yadav, as chief minister?

Mulayam is known to flex muscles against rivals. But will he do against his own son? The patriarch’s tilt is clearly towards his brother. When an angry Akhilesh stripped Shivpal of his portfolios, the father took away the son’s state presidentship. Now, Mulayam sacked Ram Gopal, the chief minister’s pillar of support since the day he assumed office.

Read: No love lost between Akhilesh and Shivpal: A timeline of their dispute

For his part, Akhilesh has toned down his belligerence. In a statement, he said he would attend the party’s silver jubilee function and continue to serve Netaji, as Mulayam is called.

But anything is possible in a family washing dirty linen in public.

Party state president Shivpal had accused the now-sacked national general secretary and cousin, Ram Gopal, of hobnobbing with the BJP primarily to protect his son and daughter-in-law involved in the Yadav Singh case. The allegations are more personal than political. He also called him a BJP agent.

Optimists believe the faction-ridden party will not formally split, despite the sacking of two key leaders – Shivpal and Ramgopal.

Nonetheless, the ball is now with the divided legislators. They have been vacillating from one camp to another, hoping for a rapprochement between father and son. A time may come when they will have to choose one.

The government is placed precariously. A former adviser to the governor, CB Pandey, says Akhilesh and the MLAs have two options. He can recommend dissolution of the Vidhan Sabha to Raj Bhavan and continue as caretaker chief minister. Technically a cabinet decision would be needed and it is a known fact that the council of ministers is packed with Mulayam loyalists.

Read: Shivpal Singh Yadav: Mulayam’s right hand man faces rough ride

Mulayam in the early 1990s took the Congress by surprise by getting the assembly dissolved before sunrise. However, he then had a friendly governor, Satya Narain Reddy.

Akhilesh does not have a friend in governor Ram Naik, a BJP veteran, who may go by the book. The BJP’s viewpoint will be important, though governors officially don’t consult parties they represent.

Another option is to call a legislature party meeting by the leader — the chief minister.

But Mulayam will address a scheduled meeting of legislators on Monday, and they may elect their new leader if he desired. If the legislators elect Mulayam as their leader, he can take over as chief minister and no one will raise a finger to that.

But if Shivpal is elected, Akhilesh may contest and the matter will go to the Raj Bhavan. The governor may fix a date for Akhilesh to prove his strength in the House.

People often talk about a split in the post-Mulayam SP, but that’s happening when he is very much around. The mess seems to be too acute to be solved in his lifetime. He hinted at that some time ago: “How do I know what will happen?”

Read: ‘Victory is where Akhilesh is’: Ramgopal Yadav writes letter before SP meet

First Published: Oct 23, 2016 19:56 IST