Crisis in SP: Are both Mulayam and Amar Singh villains?
The larger chunk of the party sees their future with Akhilesh.
When trouble started brewing in the SP about two months ago, it seemed like a self-goal by none other than the Yadav family, around which Uttar Pradesh’s ruling party revolves.
The feud, which has now blown into a full-scale war and brought the party to the brink of a split, still leaves some questions unanswered.
What is being questioned, among other things, is the role of SP patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav who had given birth to this party precisely 25 years ago.
While the battle for succession between chief minister Akhilesh Yadav and his uncle Shivpal Yadav touched its nadir and much dirty linen was washed in public, what became glaringly visible was that the key villain of the piece was none other than the patriarch himself, who was ironically planning to hold a loud silver jubilee celebration of the party on November 5.
On Sunday, when Mulayam called for a meeting of all party legislators and MPs a day later, it was seen as a move towards resolving the crisis. But far from that, Mulayam’s 40-minute monologue was full of venom and anger against the son.
What made matters worse was his open passionate defence of Amar Singh, against whom partymen had virtually launched a tirade barely 24 hours ago.
Singh's posters were torn and burnt in front of the chief minister’s residence by Akhilesh's supporters who, besides terming him as a “BJP tout”, demanded his ouster from the party again. They attributed all the trouble in the party to Singh's return in May 2016 after a six-year exile.
Mulayam had made his obsessive love for Singh visible when he meted out the same treatment (given earlier to Singh) to his cousin and the party national general secretary Ram Gopal Yadav, also SP’s leader in the Rajya Sabha.
Widely known as Akhilesh’s friend, philosopher and guide, Ram Gopal, who was responsible for Amar’s expulsion from the party in 2009, was shown the door for a period of six years.The Yadav family in happier times. (Photo credit: India Today)
Even as he kept himself discreetly away from all the action in Lucknow, Singh is believed to have masterminded every word that Mulayam uttered against Akhilesh. He literally turned a deaf ear to various issues raised by Akhilesh in his crisp address at the outset of the meeting.
And unmindful of the arguments put forth by Akhilesh to substantiate his charges against Singh, the father chose to reprimand and publicly lash his son.
In his bid to hold a strong brief for Singh, the SP supremo went to the extent of attributing all credit to Singh for “saving” him and Akhilesh “from going to jail”. That was an obvious indication to the disproportionate assets case, in which the entire Mulayam family was under the CBI's scanner until the investigating agency decided to file a closure report in the case.
Even a subsequent petition before the apex court for reopening the case was not entertained. Evidently, Mulayam meant to credit Singh for getting him relieved from the CBI noose.
Mulayam made no bones about defending Singh to the hilt and even sought to express his indebtedness to him for the installation of the SP government in UP in 2003, after the state assembly was put under suspended animation after a hung verdict in the 2002 election.
To those who have been witness to the proximity between Mulayam and Singh, who virtually called the shots under the Mulayam regime, it is no surprise.
It was an open secret in those days that all the business “deals” were carried out by Singh and allotment of prime industrial or commercial plots in the lucrative Noida region were routed only through this corporate liaison officer-turned-trader-turned-industrialist-turned-politician.
His overpowering clout over Mulayam had reduced all other SP leaders, including the likes of Azam Khan and Ram Gopal Yadav, to pygmies. His overbearing attitude also triggered the exit of actor-turned-politician Raj Babbar as well as that of veteran leader Beni Prasad Verma from the party.
It was only after others in the party realised that the wily Singh had become too big for his boots and would one fine day usurp the whole party, that they rose up in arms against him and pressured Mulayam to stop extending patronage to him.
A 2003-like situation appears to have emerged once again. With Mulayam ready to credit him with everything good that had happened to him or the party in the recent past, Singh looks invincible once again.
In fact, more than the past, he now has not only Mulayam but even Shivpal dancing to his tune. What he was, however, unable to win were the party rank and file, who expressed their disgust over him in full view of the public.
The larger chunk of the party sees their future with Akhilesh, who was undisputedly the only credible face in the SP - contrary to the father’s obvious conceit that he could still be the party’s mascot.
If Mulayam was ready to overlook the agitation and anger that was writ large on the face of every small or big party worker, he was clearly ready to sound the death knell of the baby he had himself given birth to.
What was strange was that despite having convened the Monday meeting to work out a way out of the mess, he just went on a son-lashing spree and rose without even suggesting a solution, other than urging the son to hug the warring "chacha".
Well, even as the son carried out the father’s wishes for the hug, what followed was the rude snub that he got when he sought to make some clarifications over the mike.
The uncle snatched the mike and Akhilesh tried to resist. But for the large presence of TV cameras, what was a war of words could have come to fisticuffs.
Who knows if that is how the end of the high drama has been scripted by Singh. And how can it be denied that all that was happening with the approval of the patriarch, who has openly displayed his instinctive soft corner for everything that does not go with clean or good politics.