It was an important day for Akhilesh Yadav as he geared up for the grand release of the Samajwadi Party poll manifesto. But it was also a day when his father and party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav was conspicuous by his absence, despite senior colleague Azam Khan's bids to convince him.
The peacemaker met with partial success, and after an almost one-and-half hour meet, he managed to convince Mulayam Singh Yadav to come to the party office. The manifesto, however, had already been released by Akhilesh by then.
What is more startling is that the SP veteran entered the party office just moments after Akhilesh Yadav left the party office - this has given rise to another round of speculations that all is still not well between father and son.
It's learnt that Akhilesh, after wresting control of the party, put aside suggestions of Mulayam Singh Yadav that he accommodate approximately 38 names in the final list of candidates for the Uttar Pradesh elections.
|Though the Akhilesh camp has been projecting that it has Netaji's blessings, the UP CM's public appearances with his father tell a different story.|
Since Akhilesh seemed in no mood to accommodate his father's wishes, a desertion began within the party and one of Mulayam's most trusted aides, Ambika Chaudhary, joined rival BSP. Few others who deserted the party include Rampal Yadav, Rakesh Verma and Ashish Yadav.
The discontentment within the Mulayam-Shivpal Yadav camp is but apparent, and reflected in Mulayam Singh's behaviour.
A father trying to avoid his son at public platforms is, perhaps, sending wrong signals at this juncture.
Though the Akhilesh camp has been projecting that it has Netaji's blessings, the UP CM's public appearances with his father tell a different story.
Speculation is rife that Mulayam is miffed at the way the party is being run and, as such, has not yet consented to campaigning for SP. Efforts are on to cajole him into doing so, with Azam Khan playing a pivotal role as peacemaker.
On the other hand, for Akhilesh, time is fast running out and his nearest arch-rival BSP has a distinct advantage in terms of pre-decided candidates, well-planned rallies and political campaigns.
Akhilesh confronts the massive challenge of roping in Netaji for timely support. He knows too well that going to the polls with the wrong message and without his father's public blessings may not augur well for the party.
But, for now, even as Akhilesh spells out a slew of populist measures to woo the voters as part of the manifesto, the absence of his father's endorsement will prove most discomforting.
He may have stepped into the shoes of his father, but the party can't afford to move out of Netaji's shadows.