For Mulayam, It’s Mukhtar Ansari, Amar Singh and Shivpal Over Akhilesh

by Atul Chandra - Oct 25, 2016 10:49 AM +05:30 IST
For Mulayam, It’s Mukhtar Ansari, Amar Singh and Shivpal Over AkhileshAmar Singh and Mulayam Singh Yadav (SEBASTIAN D’SOUZA/AFP/Getty Images)
  • The Yadavs of UP are self-destructing, and are doing it in the open.

    With today’s address, Mulayam seems to have made his choice regarding the future and identity of the Samajwadi Party.

With the state’s first family’s infighting now out in the open, Uttar Pradesh is caught in political doldrums.

On a day when Akhilesh Yadav was shown his place by Mulayam Singh Yadav, his father and the party’s national president, in no uncertain terms, the chief minister found that he had been outmanoeuvred by Shivpal Singh Yadav and Amar Singh, the master conspirator.

At the meeting of the party leaders in Lucknow on Monday (24 October), the Samajwadi Party president proved that he was no Dhritrashtra, blind to the faults of his son. Although he exhibited another flaw – turning a blind eye to the conspiracy hatched by Amar Singh and his brother Shivpal Singh Yadav against Akhilesh.

After the kind of stern rebuke which he got from his father, and which was telecast live nationally, the chief minister has been left with only two options: resign to salvage his pride or continue as a one-quarter chief minister, a rubber stamp who was appointed merely to do the bidding of his father, Shivpal and Amar Singh.

So far there has been no hint of Akhilesh quitting the party or the chief minister’s post. Mulayam’s speech offered a clue to what could possibly happen. “I am not weak yet. People are still ready to vote for me,” he said.

With Shivpal having said that the old warhorse will be the party’s chief ministerial face in 2017, a change in leadership in UP could be in the offing with Mulayam at the helm.

After giving Akhilesh a piece of his mind in front of party leaders, something which would hurt the chief minister for a long time to come, Mulayam asked him to embrace his uncle, Shivpal.

The warmth of that embrace was short-lived as Akhilesh told his father that, according to Ashu Malik, a supporter of Netaji, Amar Singh had planted a story in The Times of India which described him as Mughal emperor Aurangzeb and Mulayam as Shahjahan.

Shivpal immediately snatched the mike from his nephew’s hand in what looked like a scuffle and shouted “It is a lie. The chief minister is lying.”

And at that dramatic moment, he family feud was out in the public in all its ugliness.

Shivpal claimed that Akhilesh had told him of his intention to break the party and form a government with the Bharatiya Janata Party’s help.

Akhilesh, who was the first to speak, said he acted on advice given by Mulayam. Sacking Gayatri Prasad Prajapati from ministry and then taking him back “because you asked me to, although it tarnished my image”.

As they levelled charges against one another, Akhilesh said he wanted control over ticket distribution, but Shivpal demanded full freedom to run the party.

Mulayam, who was supposed to play the arbiter, threw his weight behind Shivpal, Amar Singh, Gayatri Prasad Prajapati and Mukhtar Ansari. He made it abundantly clear that he can’t give up on his politics of corruption and criminalisation, and development mattered little to him.

Here are Mulayam’s reasons for supporting the quartet mentioned above:

“Shivpal would offer the chair to me and himself sit on the floor. No one can separate us. He is a grassroots leader.”

On Amar Singh, Mulayam had this to say, “Had he not saved me, I would have been in jail for seven years. He has helped me a lot. What is your standing?”

The jail term which Mulayam referred to was probably the disproportionate assets case which the SP chief faced when he was the chief minister.

Mulayam defended the merger of Qaumi Ekta Dal, mafia don Mukhtar Ansari’s party, with the SP. “Mukhtar comes from a respectable family. But for his support, we would have lost 20 seats.”

Prajapati was dear to Mulayam because he claimed he was poor.

Mulayam may not have announced his decision to take over the reins as chief minister, but he made it clear that Akhilesh could continue as chief minister as a largess from him.

Sample what Mulayam said while reprimanding his son so far:

“You got out of your mind on getting the position (of chief minister).”

“It is 100 per cent correct you are helping rapists, gamblers and alcoholics.”

“I have suffered lathi blows. Those (Akhilesh supporters) jumping outside will not be able to withstand even a single blow.”

“Don’t scare me with goondaism, won’t allow criminals in the party.”

“Those (Akhilesh supporters) raising slogans will be chased out.”

“Amar Singh is my brother and you use swear words against him? I can’t hear anything against Amar and Shivpal.”

In Mulayam’s entire speech, there was no mention of the big-ticket projects implemented by Akhilesh, as if the party meeting was called only to humiliate him.

In his speech, Akhilesh had mentioned how he had tried to create a new image for the SP. Claiming that earlier the party was seen as ‘Talibani’, anti-English and anti-computer, he said he had brought in programmes which had helped the party shed such an image.

However, none of it found mention in Mulayam’s address, or rather, the rebuke of his son.

In a way, today’s meeting was also a question for Mulayam as to what he sees the future of the party as. While Shivpal was instrumental in building the party, will his style of politics get the party any further in the future in an increasingly urbanising electorate of UP? Or is Akhilesh Yadav better suited to lead the party in the early years of the second millennium?

Mulayam seems to have made his choice. One fears if he has voluntarily walked over to the wrong side of history with this one.

A lull followed the day’s developments, but all sides were aware that a storm could hit them soon.

Atul Chandra is former Resident Editor, The Times of India, Lucknow. He has written extensively on politics in Uttar Pradesh.

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