It’s a family battle of epic proportions!
An unrelenting Samajwadi Party supremo Mulayam Singh, who is said to be working at the behest of his second wife (and UP CM Akhilesh Yadav’s stepmother) Sadhna Gupta Yadav, has outdone even king Dasharatha (from Ramayana) by publicly denigrating his son.
The Dasharatha in Valmiki’s Ramayana was much more repentant and eventually died of grief over the injustice done to his more than deserving heir — his eldest son Rama.
In the case of Mulayam-Akhilesh, while it may not be inarguable, but it is true that Akhilesh has done well as a chief minister and is believed to be a more pragmatic leader (notwithstanding the conservative, caste- and religion-based politics of India, especially Uttar Pradesh).
Akhilesh, however, cannot be the Rama of Valimiki’s epic because instead of and showing allegiance to "dharma" (an evolving concept), he continues on a course opposed to his father’s wishes and considerable "political wisdom".
Moreover, by allying with the Congress, Akhilesh has turned the definition of an ideal son (according to Ramayana) on its head. Mulayam, himself a leader past his prime, is appearing to be a puppet in the hands of those who control his mind at present — his brother Shivpal, Sadhna Gupta or Amar Singh.
Uttar Pradesh, also considered the cradle of Indian civilisation, has major sites of historical significance, including the much-disputed Ayodhya (Rama's birthplace), situated in it. But the way, the father-son duel is being fought in public, it appears that the ideals of a son and the propriety of a father too have undergone a tremendous change in modern-day Uttar Pradesh. Ideally, the son ought to never question the father, but the father should not give him a reason for that either — this simple motto has maintained the peace between father and sons in countless Indian families.
Akhilesh is more like Mahabharata's Arjuna, who on the expedient reasoning of Krishna, is able to clench his teeth, grit his, jaw forget his various dharmas, and live the motto of “do what needs to be done”.
|'By allying with the Congress, Akhilesh has turned the definition of an ideal son (according to Ramayana) on its head.'
If there is a similarity to any character in the Ramayana, Akhilesh, resembles Lakshmana, who is the embodiment of practical wisdom and foolhardy courage, more. As a first-term chief minister, Akhilesh has shown the same self-assured defiance that is in abundance in Lakshmana’s character.
For those unfamiliar with the epics here is a brief outline. In Ramayana, king Dasharatha of Ayodhya is forced by Kekayi, his favourite queen to exile Rama, his perfect son and heir, because Kekayi wants her son Bharat to become the king of Ayodhya. Rama, the embodiment of propriety and dharma happily agrees to fulfil his father’s wishes, but his younger brother Lakshmana, an equally able warrior and prince, tries to dissuade him. Lakshmana argues with his brother not to blindly obey the diktats of their father who seems to have been blinded by his “love for Kekayi”. Lakshmana, after failing to convince Rama, then follows his elder brother and Sita to the forest where many more episodes unravel.
Mahabharata, on the hand, witnesses the destruction of familial clans after the Kurkshetra war. Arjuna is shown to be full of self-doubt about killing his kith and kin but is persuaded by Krishna in a conversation which is today known as the Bhagavad Gita. The thrust of Krishna’s argument was the idea of a "just war". And it is here that lies the similarity between Arjuna of the Mahabharata and Akhilesh.
Akhilesh, one could argue, has surpassed even Arjuna by openly defying his father when he called a separate meeting of the Samajwadi Party and got himself declared the national president. His supporters soon changed Mulayam Singh's name plates from national president to mentor, believed to be a euphemism for Mulayam’s relegation to the sidelines ahead of the imminent assembly elections.
Undeterred by the latest salvo against the SP-Congress aliiance, Akhilesh continues with his "just war" philosophy of Mahabharata’s Arjuna. It looks unlikely that Mulayam will give up now. His attacks against his son are making even Dasharatha look better.
(Editor's note: The headline of the article has been changed.)