SP Feud: Akhilesh’s Win Over Mulayam Similar to Indira’s Rebellion
In his youth, Mulayam Singh Yadav was a wrestler. Though a school teacher by vocation, the dhobi-paat (shoulder throw) used to be among his favourite wrestling techniques. Unfortunately with age, it seems his wrestling manoeuvres are now backfiring with his son pinning him to the ground.
In 2012, Akhilesh was anointed UP chief minister with great fanfare. For almost five years, the son obeyed the father but he then decided to rebel. Mulayam’s brothers supported him but the son refuses to take instructions from him anymore.
A feud broke out in the family at a time when elections are just round the corner. The Samajwadi Party was clearly split into two factions.
Mulayam’s Temptation for Power
If Mulayam would have declared Akhilesh his successor, this ugly fiasco could’ve been avoided easily. His mistake was that he tried hard to keep himself aloof from power but couldn’t resist the temptation of making a comeback.
At first, it seemed that the tussle between uncle Shivpal and nephew Akhilesh was being instigated by Amar Singh. Akhilesh openly blamed Shivpal for conspiring against him in connivance with Amar Singh.
For some time, Mulayam acted like an umpire till he decided to take charge of the game himself. It became apparent that Akhilesh was not ready to act like a puppet of his father. It was seemed sooner or later Akhilesh may choose to form a new party.
Mulayam Known for Shrewdness
Mulayam must have been shocked and angered by the rebellious attitude of his son. After all, Yadav senior is known not to spare his adversaries during his long political stint. He has always given priority to his political ambitions.
In 1998, when the 13-month-old Vajpayee government lost a confidence motion by one vote, Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh met the President claiming that they have the support of 272 MPs. Mulayam had assured Sonia of supporting the Congress-led coalition but he changed his mind very soon. It was Mulayam who taught Sonia not to trust anyone in politics. So, he should have known not to trust Akhilesh.
Volte-Faces in the Past
In 1990, when Rajiv Gandhi was still alive and V P Singh was Prime Minister, Mulayam was a member of the Janata Dal and Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh. V P Singh implemented the Mandal commission report that recommended 27 percent reservation for OBCs. Mulayam had supported V P Singh then.
But when Chandrashekhar formed a government with the support of the Congress, Mulayam deserted V P Singh. Interestingly, socialist Mulayam’s entire politics was based on his support for the Mandal commission recommendations. VP Singh never recovered from Mulayam’s betrayal.
Similarly, Mamata Banerjee was also shocked by Mulayam’s volte-face. During the presidential elections in 2012, Mulayam and Mamata were supposed to address a press conference together, announcing that they will not support Pranab Mukherjee’s candidature. Mulayam never turned up, alienating Mamata, and later announced that he’s in fact supporting Mukherjee.
In 2015, Mulayam decided to support Nitish Kumar ahead of the Bihar assembly elections. But at the last moment, he chose to walk out of the Mahagathbandhan, for reasons not known to anyone. Nitish had been taken for a ride in a manner similar to Sonia, Mamata, and V P Singh.
So why should Mulayam take umbrage at Akhilesh using similar tactics against him? In fact, Akhilesh has proved that he is the true successor of his father. Mulayam should be proud of his son but he was angry and disappointed to see the party slipping out of his hands.
Resemblance to Tata-Mistry Feud
Mulayam had made the same mistake that Ratan Tata committed by thinking that Cyrus Mistry will dance to his tunes. But Mistry wanted to act in an independent manner and direct the affairs of the company in his own way. Ratan Tata couldn’t tolerate it beyond a point and decided to sack Mistry.
Mulayam also wanted a puppet who would dance to his tunes. For four-and-a-half years, Akhilesh kept mum and obeyed his father. But when he realised that the people are on his side, he decided to rebel against his father.
Akhilesh Behind SP’s Makeover
Akhilesh always knew that his party was overthrown and Mayawati had come to power in 2007 as people were fed up with the hooliganism of his party members. Whenever Mulayam’s party has come to power in UP, the law and order situation goes for a toss. The life of the common man becomes very difficult; women cannot walk fearlessly and anti-social elements get a free hand in grabbing land, houses and shops.
In 2012, Mulayam realised his folly and Akhilesh was brought in to change the party’s perception among the public.
Akhilesh was young and educated. He looked simple. He had the image of someone who doesn’t get along well with the goons. When Mulayam tried to bring D P Yadav back into the party, Akhilesh made sure that the move was foiled. This led to Akhilesh building a brand image of his own that was unlike his father.
The Samjwadi Party benefited from this makeover and formed the government with a clear majority in the Assembly. Obviously, that was a mandate in favour of Akhilesh and not Mulayam Singh. As a dynamic leader, Mulayam should have realised that his old ways adopted way back in 1977 will not work anymore and that the time has come for his retirement.
New Generation Needs New Politics
The new generation needs new politics in which development is the main agenda of the government. This new generation won’t tolerate deterioration in law and order, with people wishing to live peacefully. In neighbouring Bihar, people rejected the jungle raj of Lalu and voted in favour of Nitish.
In 2015, Lalu won more seats but people voted for Nitish. That is why it became necessary to make him the Chief Minister. If people had believed that someone from Lalu’s party would become the CM, the results of the elections would have been different.
Mulayam wants to change the course of history but stands isolated. Perhaps Mulayam doesn’t realise that a sympathy factor will work wonders for Akhilesh as Mulayam and Shivpal will be seen as power hungry. This is Mulayam’s defeat and his days are over. The son has defeated the father in the same way the “goongi gudiya” (dumb doll) Indira Gandhi vanquished the stalwarts of Indian politics in the ’60s. After all, history does repeat itself.
(The writer is an author and spokesperson of AAP. He can be reached @ashutosh83B. The views expressed above are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for the same.)