Even as the Yogi Adityanath government is busy trying to make Uttar Pradesh pothole-free, all roads leading to Samajwadi Party still seems to be pockmarked with salvos from the Yadav family feud.
The bitter infighting in Samajwadi Party — that cost the party heavily in the recently-concluded Assembly elections — is still simmering. While uncle Shivpal Yadav is still not done firing salvos against his nephew, Mulayam Singh too seems to be unforgiving and has been blaming the son for the debacle.
Making life tougher for Akhilesh, Shivpal has been categorically asking him to hand over the party reins back to his father.
Akhilesh, who put up a brave face before the results, seems to be losing his composure. Recently, when a television reporter wearing a saffron shirt asked about Shivpal’s statement, an infuriated Akhilesh said: “He (the reporter) is new here. His colour is also saffron… I want to tell him and other journalists to fix any day in May, and I will answer all questions. But after that you should not ask any question about my family."
Akhilesh Yadav needs to answer some uncomfortable questions.
For any journalist, it's natural to ask such questions. However, it's not very unnatural to lose your cool when not in the best position to answer.
Akhilesh, despite having both age and numbers (of party MLAs) on his side, failed to convert that support into a political victory in an Assembly election fought in alliance with the Congress, much against the wishes of his father.
Shivpal, who used to call the shots in the party before Akhilesh outgrew the shoes given by his father, was marginalised but was spared the guillotine. Now, he looms large like a real threat to Akhilesh, especially at a time when he is finding it hard to come to terms with the electoral loss.
Even though Mulayam kept opposing an alliance with the Congress, Akhilesh chose not to pay any heed to his father's advice. Not only did he allow the Congress to gulp more than it could actually chew, the former chief minister seems to have got carried away with lofty slogans like "Kaam Bolta hai " and "UP Ko Ye Saath Pasand hai".
The results came as a huge slap forcing many in the party to get into a huddle. That has now triggered a seemingly happy uncle to question the supremacy of Akhilesh within the party. Akhilesh, while wresting control of the party, had made lofty claims of getting a thumping majority for SP as a gift to his father, but completely overlooked his suggestions.
Rahul Gandhi and his Congress failed miserably, although not unexpected. To Akhilesh's consolation, many blamed the Congress vice-president for the SP's mighty fall. Whatever may be the truth, it's high time the two parties to go deep diving and fix the rot.
A constructive opposition is missing even as the Yogi government seems to be on a roller-coaster ride, taking "bold" and "big" decisions.
Trying his best to tell the world that he is still "alive and kicking", Akhilesh has been conducting stock-taking exercises. A massive membership drive is also on. Akhilesh is also trying hard to project that he is still at the helm of affairs against the father-uncle duo's repeated attacks.
However, it has became a common practice within the Samajwadi Party — to dodge discomforting questions. Post-Assembly election debacle, and in the event of enough dirty linen being washed in public, these questions are begging urgent answers. They can't be rubbished by intimidation. The whole episode raises serious questions over Akhilesh's capabilities to lead the party from here on.
Samajwadi Party is in complete disarray. Akhilesh Yadav must come out of his comfort zone and answer some uncomfortable questions. He cannot ignore them for long. Can he?