The current fight in the Yadav clan may be a result of the conflicting political ambitions of Akhilesh Yadav, and his step-mother, Sadhana Yadav.
The bitter and ugly fight in Mulayam Singh Yadav's family has come to a passe where it threatens to divide the Samajwadi Party vertically. It has reduced the stature of incumbent Chief Minister, brought governance to a standstill and exposed the farce of dynasties mobilised around tribal instincts as "political parties".
While the drama might have unfolded before the nation just a few weeks back, the Yadav family feud per se has a long history. And though on the face of it, it appears to be an Akhilesh-Shivpal squabble, it has more characters than the ones presently in news.
The other son of Mulayam
At the heart of the quarrel is Mulayam Singh Yadav's second marriage to Sadhana Gupta and her son Prateek. Though Mulayam Singh is said to have been in relation with Sadhana Gupta for a long time, he owned up to this marriage only in 2007 in the course of a CBI inquiry in disproportionate assets case against him.
Akhilesh who grew up seeing his mother, Malti Devi, living a neglected life in village has apparently held on to this part of his past. His outburst that he had named himself (giving himself the name “Akhilesh”) and Mulayam's confession that he couldn't pay as much attention to him as he should have tell a story of troubled relationship.
The bad blood between step brothers, Akhilesh and Prateek has resulted in a tug of war for dominance within the party. This feud comes at a time when the often-seen Aparna Yadav- Prateek's wife- has made comments which appear as intended to embarrass the party.
People close to the family tell that Sadhana had managed to secure Aparna's candidature from the Azamgarh seat in the last Lok Sabha elections but pressure from Akhilesh and Ram Gopal forced Mulayam to cancel it and contest the seat himself in addition to Mainpuri.
The latest flare up in the family has erupted ever since Aparna's candidature was finalised for Lucknow Cantonment seat for the forthcoming assembly elections.
Where Amar Singh comes in here is that he is seen as backing Sadhana Gupta and Prateek. It is said that it was Amar Singh who convinced Mulayam to own up to his second marriage in public.
Mulayam Singh, suffering from a chronic liver ailment, may be keen on establishing his second son in politics, too. Shivpal, who is Mulayam's alter ego, would go with whatever "Netaji" proposed. Akhilesh's seething rage, in turn, for his step brother wouldn't allow it to happen easily though. He is unwilling to grant them legitimacy as natural heirs of the party.
It is sad to see politics in India, the largest democracy of the world, play out as court intrigues of medieval times. Also, Uttar Pradesh will not be the last place where this travesty pans out. There are a lot of dynasties in Indian politics. Similar fate awaits them sooner or later.