The sequence of events in the recent past clearly shows that the family feud in Samajwadi Party has now exacerbated and reached at an
alarming level. The sordid family drama being played out in Uttar Pradesh is a reminder that the State has been pushed inexorably into a precipice of governance by a family that is pulled in different directions by several vested interests
The political bugle for the biggest slugfest due next year in Uttar Pradesh begun with recent eruption in Samajwadi Party (SP) is not an exclusive or unheard story for the ‘family-run’ political parties with Mulayam Singh Yadav as its chief. There is nothing new with what happened within the four walls of political corridors in Uttar Pradesh before the upcoming election 2017.
Uttar Pradesh politics, so far, has been crucial in political history of India. The long lasting political drama that has been staged in the India's most populous state for the last couple of weeks, unequivocally suggests that the SP is all about a family political party. Family patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav, who built his party in the eighties would never deny to accept that he and his party firmly believes in the ideals and
philosophy propagated by the political stalwarts like Ram Manohar Lohia and practice the policies made by Chaudhary Charan Singh. Ironically, one can see the on-going clashes within the party for vested interests are nothing but a blatant mockery of the ideology and principles.
However the sequence of events in the recent past clearly shows that the family feud in the SP has now exacerbated and reached at an alarming level. The sordid family drama being played out in the State is a reminder that the largest State of India has been pushed inexorably into a precipice of
governance by a family that is pulled in different directions by several vested interests. The day March 15, 2012 when SP Supremo Mulayam Singh anointed son Akhilesh as chief
minister of UP, people took it as a reward to the son whose spotless innocent face has taken the SP to a tally of 224 seats in the 403 member UP Assembly— something that even the experienced father could have not attain before in any election.
Akhilesh’s educational background and highly fascinating degrees from abroad lent hope to his father’s mind and also others that here is a young new face of Samajwadi generation ready to give the makeover to the rustic SP in the state. The father had another reason to smile when he bestowed upon the leadership power to his 38 year old son who was being hailed as the youngest UP CM as it was the fulfillment of his father’s much awaited dream of setting the line of succession for the son. Since then, Mulayam Singh Yadav has always had a soft corner for the political novice son to whom he clearly wanted to pass on the legacy, irrespective of the love for his brother Shivpal Yadav as the party grassroots game changer and
crucial Samajwadi leader.
Storm in a Teacup
Akhilesh’s other chacha Ram Gopal Yadav,( Mulayam's first cousin) has always pushed for his nephew. Ram Gopal became Akhilesh 's close friend, a guide and a political philosopher. However, he made his own political chart to reach out and emerge as one of the political members and to stay as an important person in the family, which stood divided -Shivpal backed by Mulayam’s second wife Sadhana and son Prateek and his wife Aprana on one side and Akhilesh backed by his loving friend cum uncle Ram Gopal Yadav on the other side. The tug of war started a few days ago when Akhilesh Yadav sacked the Chief Secretary Deepak Singal who is believed to be a close aide of Shivpal Yadav. In the next move, Mulayam Singh replaced his son and CM Akhilesh with his younger brother Shivpal Yadav as his party’s chief.
In return, Akhilesh Yadav sacked Shivpal Yadav from all the ministerial responsibilities except social welfare
department. It clearly gives sign of the Shivpal’s bid to isolate Akhilesh in the party as in December 2015 followed by the sacking and reinstating of Akhilesh loyalists, Sunil yadav and Anand Bhadauria. Frustrated CM had skipped the Saifai
festival until the two were taken back into the party. Another similar incident in June 2016 was the merger and separation of Quami ekta dal with Samajwadi party when Shivpal first announced the merger of Quami Ekta Dal with Samajwadi Party. The party was hoping that the amalgamation would result into tap the Muslim vote bank in eastern Uttar Pradesh especially in Ghazipur, Mau and Varanasi area.
Disagreeing to that, Akhilesh Yadav put his foot down and called off the party’s merger with gangster turned politician Mukhtar Ansari’s party, who was lodged in Agra jail in connection with the killings of BJP legislator Krishnanand Rai in 2005. Akhilesh also sacked two of his ministers, Gayatri Pajapati and Panchayati Raj minister Rajkishor sigh who have been facing corruption charges. Soon after which the family feud erupted on September 13, 2016 when Mulayam replaced Akhilesh with Shivpal as the party chief. The former had been the party chief for the last four years.
Cold War Heats Up
Not very long ago, when Akhilesh and his other uncle Ram Gopal Yadav were made to bite the dust again over the re entry of the Amar Singh in the party which both has opposed firmly. The prevailing cold war has taken the shape of an open battle when Akhilesh decided to have it out with his uncle. Ram Gopal stood by Akhilesh while it is said that the
‘outsider’ Amar Singh, as referred by Akhilesh Yadav, played his machinations from behind Shivpal. Amar Singh, known to be the brain trust to Mulaym Singh, enjoys a close proximity of Yadav clan with which he not only regained the entry into party SP but also a Rajya Sabha berth despite stiff
opposition from Akhilesh and Ram Gopal duo. Even as the war between the uncle and nephew was on, much could be easily guessed from what Akhlesh said to media persons in Lucknow, “I take certain decisions while neta ji (Mulayam) takes others important decision in the party but interference by someone outsider has led to problems”.
However, Amar Singh denied that he was the ‘outsider’ Akhilesh was referring to. He even refused to accept that he had anything to do with the crisis as was being made out. When asked about the Chief Minister’s statement regarding the role of outsider in the family tussle Ram Gopal Yadav told the press, ‘there is a general perception in party workers, leaders and people about this …’ Later cabinet minister Azam Khan also took a jibe at Amar Singh though he refrained from naming him, and said the Chief Minister was right in his statement made. Shivpal however, defended Amar Singh saying an organisation becomes strengthened by taking everyone along.
Oldies Vs Goodies
Rolling out the family dynamic more, it appears that Mulayam supports his brother Shivpal over his son. More than a mere political game in the power politics, the tussle traces its roots to the perennial clash of cultures between two generations. Akhilesh took the development of backward class of Uttar Pradesh as his priority since he is bestowed with leadership role as the UP CM face in 2012 resounding victory. The whole sacking events can be a attempt to project the SP’s image as corruption-free and people’s party as UP Election is due next year in 2017 before which the party needs to present a positive image before the public after removing all the piled up charges of corruptions and their closeness with the criminals.
Mayawati, with her unshakable vote bank and growing Muslim support in the State, poses a grave threat to the Akhilesh's untested political skills. Though the new generation of UP has tried to rise above the caste-consideration, all the political parties are definitely in the custody of caste-combination factor as a determinant of allies, policies and electoral manifesto. From the start and all this while, it was not a fight to the finish as many political observers believed. It was just the game to clips one another's wings. In such a turbulent scenario, to propound that the reentry of Amar Singh was the root-cause of the turmoil is fallacious. But his presence may have catalysed the recent developments. Image-wise, Akhilesh has gained significantly more and has emerged as a leader in his own capacity to handle critics in the face of his father's displeasure at the internal rift.
The Electoral Fallout
The SP supremo knows it would not be possible to win the upcoming elections with the old guards in the forefront, no matter how useful they have been to him in the past. Hence, Akhilesh is needed by the party to play the crucial role. Following these developments, other parties seem to be the potential opportunist-gainers. Congress vice-president, Rahul Gandhi took a jibe at SP saying that ‘the cycle-Party’ had truly punctured itself and now Akhilesh has thrown the wheel out.
With so much of dirt out in public view, no doubt, the SP leaders have tarnished the image of the party as well as its fortune in the upcoming UP polls. The gainers would be the BJP, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and Congress. With the agenda set by these political parties particularly keen on finding whether the mudslinging has made a dent in the electoral credibility of the SP, a golden opportunity handed over on a platter to them in the upcoming UP polls 2017.
The BJP can be the biggest gainer as it bagged 73 out of 80 seats in the 2014 parliament election. The BSP was dealt a strategic setback by the BJP's tactic of pinning it down as a sectarian party. Mayawati is trying to break out of the character of messiah for only Dalits and is reaching out to non-Dalit's sections. Congress could have been a potentially big- gainer. However, for the potential to be realised one needs a grassroots leader on the ground but Congress leaders are thin on the ground. They all are keenly observing the feud in the family ahead of polls.
BJP with its Amit Shah as
game-changer in UP will try harder to build up the support of Other Backward Classes who have shifted to BJP from SP during 2014 polls Lok sabha Elections. Also there must have been a feeling within the party that it has been long since an important state like Uttar Pradesh has seen a BJP government. To approach 2019 general elections,
winning in UP for BJP is a must. Mayawati's rallies across UP are getting a good response and BSP will prove to be tough competitor too. Mayawati is eager to come back, while Akhilesh Yadav is slogging hard to retain his CM chair, while Congress has been trying best to infiltrate into the political filed in the state with new energy by master poll strategist Prashant Kishor.
Muslims, who traditionally back SP, BSP and Congress, also have a good pocket of hold in the state. With major Muslim vote share getting split among the three parties, BJP will certainly reap its possible electoral benefit. There is a slippery-turf situation, Akhilesh Yadav has left with no choice but to showcase himself as a credible leader before Uttar Pradesh goes to polls. So let us wait
for more political gimmicks and
absurd dramas. n