It is clear that Akhilesh is deciding the new order, and while he is prepared to respect his father, he is not willing to let him dictate his politics. Mulayam’s frustration at this development is visible from the letter he sent out after the ‘national convention’ anointed Akhilesh as the party president. He called the convention illegal, and expelled Ram Gopal for organizing it, and labelled all its decisions as illegal. But then he did not take the extreme step of acting against his son again. He now knows that the number game has changed in favour of his son as more than 200 of the 229 SP MLAs and 55 out of the 57 ministers have stood solidly behind Akhilesh.
Over a period of three dramatic days, the Samajwadi Party publicly demonstrated that there are no full stops in its politics. If the Samajwadi supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav struck the first blow by expelling his son and Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh as well as his cousin Ramgopal Yadav from the party, then within 24 hours he did another of his well-practiced U-turns and rescinded the suspension order. There was an impression of a happy Yadav family unified in the cause to fight communal forces. However, it was too good to last. The history of internal strife between the Yadavs, goes back to the days of Mahabharata, and even Lord Krishna had to bear the brunt of this mutual distrust. So how could Mulayam Singh Yadav escape the taste of this divide. The next salvo was fired by Akhilesh. With his confidence bolstered by the show of strength that made his father see reason and back down from the suspension decision, he took the next decisive move. He got himself anointed as the national president called by uncle Ram Gopal Yadav and elevated his father to the position of party’s patron.
It is clear that Akhilesh is deciding the new order, and while he is prepared to respect his father, he is not willing to let him dictate his politics. Mulayam’s frustration at this development is visible from the letter he sent out after the ‘national convention’ anointed Akhilesh as the party president. He called the convention illegal, and expelled Ram Gopal for organising it, and labelled all its decisions as illegal. But then he did not take the extreme step of acting against his son again. He now knows that the number game has changed in favour of his son as more than 200 of the 229 SP MLAs and 55 out of the 57 ministers have stood solidly behind Akhilesh. A basic change has taken place in the party. It is looking up to Akhilesh and not Mulayam as the leader. The ageing wrestler has read the writing on the turf.
The efforts of the peace makers have come to a nought. It would be depressing the Muslim heavyweight Azam Khan a founder of the party who has maintained equidistance between the father and the son to know that his efforts at brokering peace have not succeeded. He had reasoned that a split in the party would spread confusion among the Muslim community that looks up to the SP to halt the BJP from coming power in the state. More than anything else this was a very appealing argument to Mulla Mulayam Singh who considers himself as a saviour of the community. Besides, with his persuasive logic Khan played on the father son theme to bring about reconciliation between the two sides. Another key player to be disappointed would be the RJD leader Lalu Prasad Yadav who is Mulayam’s samdhi and had some words of wisdom about the father son relationship in politics. On top of it, there is Mulayam Singh’s vow that he would not let the party split in his life time.
But everyone knew that this was fragile truce and there was no guarantee that there would be no further U-turns. In fact, all knew that the road ahead is quite bumpy and there could be many ticklish turns ahead. It did not take long for these fears to be fructified. Now that Akhilesh has fired his decisive salvo, it is for his father to respond through the proposed national convention on January 5th. But the parting of ways appears certain.
However, the tremors that impact the Samajwadi politics are not limited to the confines of the party. These have an impact on the wider political landscape of the state. The key reason for this is the composition of the support base for the party. It has thrived on the MY (Muslim Yadav)-combination for all these years. Over the years, the Muslims have supported the party but have also felt that they have been taken granted. But the reality is that they have had no other option and the SP thrives under this knowledge.
Of late, the Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati has been arguing that a Muslim vote for the SP is wasted because the party can no longer halt the BJP and the best course for them would be to vote for the BSP. The BSP has a core vote of 20 percent dalit vote, and if a bulk of the 18 percent Muslim vote (known to vote strategically in favour of a candidate best suited to defeat the BJP) shifts in its favour then it would have an advantage in a four cornered contest. However, this is just a theoretical construct as there is no hard evidence of a weakened SP. Besides, the note ban decision is reported to have considerably weakened the BSP’s financial muscle and it reportedly no longer has the same level of preparedness to mount a challenge for power in the state.
For the BJP that is the other major contender for power, the equation is very clear. The roadmap for it is very simple in UP. It just has to do an encore of its 2014 performance based on Narendra Modi’s personal popularity. The demonetisation episode has shown that for all the disruption caused on the ground there is no decline in his personal popularity. It sounds logical that just as in 2014, he should ride on the crest of that popularity and once again deliver the state to the BJP. In this equation, there is no room to factor in the flip-flops that are taking place within the SP. In electoral terms, the BJP is insulated from the machinations in the SP. Then there is the BJP’s well-oiled election machinery backed up by the organisational muscle of the RSS that are unparalleled when it comes mounting an election campaign. But the battle lines of the contest have not been drawn as yet and would be firmed up only when the poll schedule is announced.