UP political drama: Act II opens
- Akhilesh made national president
- Mulayam ‘supreme guide’
When everyone thought that curtains were down on the unending political drama in Uttar Pradesh on the eve of New Year with Samajwadi Party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav and his Chief Minister son Akhilesh hugged each other in true Baap-Beta style, the first day of the New Year opened with a brand new act.
Sunday’s development could be considered as Act II Scene 1, enacted by supporters of Akhilesh with his blessings. To recap, Mulayam and Akhilesh had been at loggerheads over distribution of party tickets for the coming Assembly elections. Both of them had prepared separate lists. While Akhilesh wanted candidates with untainted past, Mulayam and his cohorts’ main criterion was ‘winnability’ irrespective of their personal background. Thus the father-son clash, with their respective supporters chipping in, SP headed for a vertical split. However, it was saved in the nick of time by senior minister Azam Khan.
Mulayam who had been maintaining a defiant stand over son’s demands, either out of ego or over-confidence that the number of his supporters in the party was more than that in his son’s camp, had suddenly realized the odds were against him. To save his face and to prove once again that he is the boss, Mulayam called a party convention on January 5 at Janeshwar Mishra Park in Lucknow, not knowing his dream would turn a nightmare in less than 24 hours.
SP general secretary Ram Gopal Yadav, Akhilesh’s loyalist whom Mulayam had fired from his post just three days ago and taken back after the father-son truce, gathered thousands of CM’s supporters at the same park where the SP convention is to be held on January 5 and announced Akhilesh Yadav as party’s national president, the removal of the State party president Shivpal Yadav and ouster of veteran leader Amar Singh. Both Shivpal and Amar Singh are confidantes of Mulayam and have stood by him through thick and thin. Nevertheless, Samajwadi Party founder-president Mulayam Singh Yadav has been ‘elevated’ to the position of ‘supreme guide or margdarshak’ of the party.
Ironically, after Ram Gopal’s announcements, Akhilesh said he had high respect and regard for netaji (father) but hit out at his uncle Shivpal.
The anti-climax in unity moves has surprised many SP sympathizers and given new grist to Congress, BSP and BJP mills to think of new poll strategies. The immediate action of Mulayam Singh after the developments is to send a letter to the Election Commission pointing out that Sunday’s meeting was unconstitutional; call another SP convention on January 5; issuance of another letter expelling Ram Gopal Yadav from the party for six years (the second in three days, the first one was issued on Friday along with one to Akhilesh).
Now, the SP strongman is left with few options. Since both party and family unity bids have failed to produce any tangible result, Mulayam has to either fight back or accept the honourable position offered by his son. We have to see whether the former wrestler will survive another political bout with his son and spring back with another surprise move.