In which Mulayam Singh Yadav does more damage than good
In his press conference, he ruled out any change in the status of Amar Singh and Ram Gopal Yadav.
Samajwadi Party patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav’s failure to thrash out a solution to the deepening crisis in his party has brought the situation back to square one.
Far from resolving the family war that has plagued the party in its 25th year of existence, Mulayam’s press conference on Tuesday has raised more questions than he answered.
It was evident that even 24 hours after the warring groups, led by his chief minister son Akhilesh Yadav and brother Shivpal, came to blows at the state party headquarters on Monday, Mulayam could only broker temporary peace.
A series of parleys between Mulayam and Akhilesh and Shivpal and Akhilesh could not yield any positive result. The only concrete thing that could come out of the family drama that touched its peak on Monday was that the father has let the son continue as chief minister, while flatly turning down the demand of the Shivpal-led anti-Akhilesh lobby that he don the mantle of chief minister yet again.
Thousands of partymen who gathered outside the party office once again looked lost and disappointed after Mulayam failed to give them any definite direction, without which the party stands in disarray at a time when it should be bracing up for the state assembly elections in early 2017.
Strangely, even as the SP was vividly appearing as a sharply divided house, the septuagenarian SP chief sought to put up the façade that everything was in order – as if to completely negate the unsavoury events that played out on the streets of Lucknow in full public view over recent days.
“The family is one and the party is one," he declared with a smile, but refused to entertain any questions on his blue-eyed boy Amar Singh, who his son and the larger chunk of party leaders consider as the culprit behind the trouble in the party. “I will not take any questions on Amar Singh," he said.
When a scribe sought to raise a query about Mulayam's cousin Ram Gopal whom he himself expelled on Monday for a period of six years, Mulayam shot back, “no one should listen to that man".
That reflected the irony of Ram Gopal’s fate as not very long ago, he was regarded as the party’s “think-tank” and as recent as 24 hours ago, he was undisputedly the party’s most powerful general secretary as also the SP leader in the Rajya Sabha.Mulayam refused to take any questions on Amar Singh. (Photo credit: India Today)
Mulayam not only ruled out any change in the status of both Amar Singh and Ram Gopal, he also chose to remain non-committal on the question of re-induction of Shivpal and three other ministers who were unceremoniously dropped by Akhilesh from his cabinet on Sunday.
“As for the return of the sacked ministers, you should address the question to Akhilesh, who is the chief minister,” Mulayam said.
However, when a scribe sought to know whether Akhilesh would be projected as the party’s chief ministerial face in the 2017 election, he reiterated his same loaded remark that had stirred a hornet’s nest earlier - “it is the prerogative of elected MLAs to decide who should be their chief minister.”
As if that was not enough to dismiss the popular demand for projecting Akhilesh as the party’s chief minister face, he went a step further: “The last election was contested on my face,” Mulayam claimed, hastening to add: “And we won with a thumping majority." It was an obvious bid to negate the fact that the tide had turned in favour of the SP in 2012 essentially because of Akhilesh’s spotless face that was seen as casting the SP in a new mould.
Significantly, Akhilesh kept away from the press conference, even as uncle Shivpal preferred to sit beside his elder brother and watch him silently.
Political analysts see Tuesday’s developments as “meaningless” in terms of any long-term solution to the full-blown war within the ruling Yadav clan.
It is now evident that the party leadership has already given up on the 2017 state assembly polls. The ongoing battle in the family-run party was all about succession, for control of the party in the years to come. After all, age is catching up with Mulayam whose incoherence has been quite blatantly visible all along.
The first round - at least for now - has surely gone in favour of Akhilesh. After all he is going to remain in the saddle. Yet, in order to consolidate his position, he will have to flex his muscles - and that would be unlikely without another showdown with uncle Shivpal.