Mulayam’s Tightrope Walk

  • Balancing Son, Brother

New Delhi: Mulayam Singh Yadav, the Samajwadi Party (SP) supremo has been fighting the toughest battle of his long and distinguished political career. He has been trying to strike a balance between his assertive and aggressive son Akhilesh Yadav and his sulking younger brother Shivpal Yadav. In essence, Mulayam has been trying his best to keep the Yadav clan intact by undertaking tightrope walk.

Mulayam deliberately resorted to chiding his son and chief minister, Akhilesh Yadav, asking him publicly to mend his ways. He alleged that some conspiracy is going on to harm his brother, Shivpal, known for his organisational skills. He bluntly said that without Shivpal SP would collapse like nine pins.

It is important to know the background to understand the present. Five important members of the first family of Uttar Pradesh had entered politics recently. One was Mulayam’s nephew Abhishek Yadav who was elected as the chairman of Etawah Zilla Panchayat. The patriarch’s niece Sandhya Yadav was the second entrant. She got elected as chairperson of Mainpuri Zilla Panchayat. The third was Vandana Yadav who was elected as chairperson of Hamirpur Zilla Panchayat. She is also a close relative of Mulayam Singh. Mridula Yadav, mother of Mulayam ‘s nephew and Mainpuri MP Tej Pratap Yadav was the fourth. The fifth entrant from the first family was Arjun Singh, Mulayam’s brother-in-law. The last two relatives were accommodated in humbler political offices.

It is extremely important for Mulayam to maintain the equilibrium in the family and the party. Removal of Akhilesh from the president-ship of UP unit of the SP has to be seen from this angle. His brother Shivpal has to be kept in good humour so that he would not desert the party. Keeping the party united is the need of the hour with the assembly elections due in January next year fast approaching.

The BJP had a set back with the Dalits on war path. But Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to go all out in the battle for the most important State in the country. The BSP is resurgent with the hope of getting the undivided Dalit support. The Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi has mounted a huge campaign to attract the farming community.

In a situation like this, Shivpal Yadav has a key role to play. He has proven skills in knitting coalitions and bringing smaller parties to work with the SP. When Shivpal tried to merge an outfit headed by Mafia-turned politician Mukhtar Ansari’s Quami  Ekta Dal, Chief Minister Akhilesh vetoed the move upsetting his uncle. It was then that Shivpal blurted out saying that he was worried about the rampant corruption in UP government and declared that he would quit the party.

There is bound to be a personality clash whenever Akhilesh tries to assert his authority. Shivpal is strong and uncompromising. When he was stripped of party presidentship which was given to Shivpal, Akhilesh retaliated by removing important portfolios in his uncle’s guard.

When reporters asked Shivpal Yadav who would be the face of the party in the forthcoming elections, he replied that it is yet to be decided. He did not say that Akhilesh would be the face of the party. ‘We are all working under the leadership of Netaji Mulayam Singh’, said Shivpal. He said it is for the Netaji to decide who would help the party win elections. Akhilesh’s refrain has been that his father made him sit in the chair of CM by giving full powers. This war of wits would go on. Mulayam Singh would allow it as long as the party remains united. In other words, he has to allow this kind of brinkmanship in order to keep the party united. The egos of the senior leaders have to satisfy if they have to continue in the party. Netaji is doing all this and more with the sole aim of continuing his beloved son Akhilesh at the helm. If you think the spat between the father and the son is serious, you are mistaken.

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