Uttar Pradesh's 'Samajwadi Parivar' has made a mockery of being a political party
The damage done to the SP appears irreparable at this juncture.
No sooner than ageing Samajwadi Party (SP) patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav revoked the expulsion of his son, chief minister Akhilesh Yadav, from the party on Saturday, someone tweeted: “It is time that entertainment tax is imposed on SP.”
Sure enough, the recent goings-on in the party, which has been ruling the country’s most populous state (UP) for nearly five years, have rendered it a big joke.
Repeated high drama at the highest level of UP’s ruling party has re-affirmed the impression that it is no more a political party but a "parivar", that is totally bereft of "samajwad" or socialism.
This was the second time in two months that things came to a head in the party, and just when a vertical split seemed imminent, Mulayam exercised his veto to protect the interest of his son.
About two month ago, when the first round of trouble had sparked off, the father had left no stone unturned to embarrass and humiliate Akhilesh, but at the end of the day he was there to ensure that the son got precedence over Mulayam's brother Shivpal. He was able to send out the message loud and clear that the son alone would remain his undisputed successor.
Once again now, Mulayam has reversed his own decision (expelling Akhilesh) to re-consolidate his son's position. Interestingly, the move was justified “in the larger interest of the party”. Barely 24 hours earlier, he had cited the “larger interest of the party” as the reason for Akhilesh's expulsion.
No one doubts or undermines Mulayam’s hard work in raising a political outfit from scratch and taking it to a meaningful level. But as the party stands today, Mulayam himself is responsible for shaking the very foundations of the SP which, for him, is apparently not an entity beyond his family.
Even when he chose to throw Akhilesh out of the party on Friday evening, it was on account of circumstances created by family members in rival camps. Mulayam pointedly blamed his own cousin Ram Gopal Yadav (SP national general secretary and the party’s leader in the Rajya Sabha) for misguiding Akhilesh.
“Ram Gopal is bent upon ruining Akhilesh’s career,” he told the press conference where he announced the expulsion of his son as well as cousin, who Mulayam himself had described as the party’s thinktank.
On the other hand, the patriarch was visibly under the influence of another set of family members - younger brother Shivpal and wife Sadhana - who were allegedly ganged up by “outsider” Amar Singh.Mulayam appears to be under the influence of younger brother Shivpal and wife Sadhana. (Photo: India Today)
Senior IAS officer Anita Singh, whom Mulayam had planted as principal secretary to CM Akhilesh, provided all the official backing to this lobby that seemed to have focused its energies only towards dislodging Akhilesh.
If they succeeded in doing so on Friday, it was clearly the result of a well-orchestrated strategy, in which Mulayam was trapped under overwhelming emotional pressure from his family and other confidantes.
The upsurge that followed in the form of loud protests by Akhilesh's supporters compelled Mulayam to rethink. The loud manner in which Akhilesh's supporters rose up in arms and demonstrated their anger while demanding his reinstatement drowned the feeble slogans raised by a handful of Shivpal supporters.
Even at that juncture, Akhilesh made it a point to ensure that none of his supporters raised any slogan against his father.
Mulayam, who always had a soft corner for the son, whom he had protected even at the end of round one of the earlier family feud, once again rose to the occasion and rescued him. It was another matter that this time Azam Khan came in handy to strike the rapproachment.
Azam had himself witnessed how 90 per cent of the party MLAs had chosen to attend a meeting convened by Akhilesh, thereby sending the signal loud and clear that in the event of a test of majority on the floor of the Assembly, Akhilesh’s supporters would far outnumber those of his rival uncle, Shivpal.
Eventually, realisation dawned upon the father that it was once again time to call it a day. A family patch-up was thrashed out, followed by a replay of Shivpal’s old tape - “all of us are together and we will fight communal forces; we will once again form an SP government in UP with full majority.”
However, the damage done to the party appears to be irreparable at this juncture, when the Uttar Pradesh state elections are just round the corner. But who cares about the party as long as “all is well" with the family, which cannot be taken seriously anymore?