What looked like a family drama a few weeks ago with Samajwadi Party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav and his brother Shivpal Yadav slugging it out with youthful chief minister Akhilesh Yadav (son to Mulayam and nephew to uncle Shivpal), not so much in words but through actions, has now graduated to seeming to be a genuine fight. With Mulayam wresting the party president’s post from Akhilesh and bestowing it on brother Shivpal, Akhilesh has apparently been rubbed on the wrong side a little too hard. A couple of days ago, Mulayam who styles himself as the patriarch of the party made it known that that the next chief minister of Uttar Pradesh would not automatically be Akhilesh if the party romps home a winner — the legislators would decide who would don the mantle. This evidently angered Akhilesh who was already smarting under the humiliation of the loss of party president post and the suspension of some of his young associates in the party.
Akhilesh Yadav’s announcement that he is going on a rath yatra and would miss the party’s foundation anniversary functions including a mega rally on November 3, has set tongues wagging whether the party is heading for a split with father Mulayam and son Akhilesh pulling in different directions. Party insiders feel that eventually blood will prove thicker than water and the son will be pacified but there can be no guarantee that the fire would be doused. There always are some mischief-mongers who revel in building upon misunderstandings and such people could come into play in this case too. Shivpal Yadav has his eyes set on a grand entry of his son on the power stage which Akhilesh resents. Clearly, it seems unlikely that Akhilesh will throw his full weight behind the party if it is led in the elections by Shivpal Yadav. How that would translate in electoral terms is indeed a big question mark.