Samajwadi Party patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav is living up to the repute of being a wrestler. Unpredictability is in his blood. And, it's also a cardinal rule in the game of wrestling.
I find it highly ironic that the wrestler-turned-politician's son, Akhilesh Yadav, did to him exactly what he did to several others to build his reputation. You don't need to look any farther than the way he snatched the legacy of Choudhury Charan Singh from Ajit Singh, or the way he took control of the Lok Dal party.
After Charan Singh's death, the party split again into two: Charan Singh's US-educated son Ajit Singh took over the faction called LD-A, Mulayam Singh's faction was called LD-B. In 1989, Mulayam merged LD-B with the Janata Dal. He became the chief minister of UP for the first time, as a result of the merger.
Mulayam did the same to Chandra Shekhar of Samajwadi Janta Party, and when he backstabbed VP Singh. In 1989, Vishwanath Pratap Singh, then a Congress rebel, dethroned Rajiv Gandhi to form India's second non-Congress coalition government.
Mulayam was quick to ditch Chandra Shekhar and join Singh. Though, not for long. Once VP Singh was out of power, Mulayam was back in Chandra Shekhar's boat. After the collapse of the VP Singh government at the centre in November 1990, Yadav joined Chandra Shekhar's Janata Dal (Socialist) party and continued in office as chief minister with support of the Congress party.
And, as Mulayam would very well know, in wrestling, winning is most important, despite the tumbles and blows.
In Uttar Pradesh, no one is willing to write off Mulayam just yet. The old timers still recall how he took to paddling for long-drawn campaigns for his party and built it ground up. He was the master of U-turns, elbowing out godfathers as they were many.
So now, as his son relegates him to the same place in the same party he built over decades, while trusted man-fridays get dumped one after another, he decided to strike back. On Sunday, after the joint rally of Rahul Gandhi and Akhilesh, much to their chagrin, the old man refused to campaign for the alliance.
|It's not clear if Mulayam Singh Yadav actually wants to field his own candidates against Congress in 105 Assembly constituencies. [Photo: Agencies]|
On Monday, January 30, he indicated he would put his own candidates in all the 105 seats being contested by the Congress.
This did not come as a surprise to the Akhilesh camp and they were quick to rubbish it and reiterate that Netaji is their guiding force and they have his blessings. Aparna Yadav, Mulayam's youngest daughter-in-law, indicated the same, moments after filing her nomination from Lucknow Cantt Assembly constituency.
Mulayam loyalists, who have been denied tickets by Akhilesh, meanwhile, are flocking to other parties including the BSP. Both Ambika Chaudhary and Narad Rai have joined the BSP and and have been given tickets. Earlier, the Ansari brothers, who had unceremonious exit from SP under Akhilesh, too, were respectfully accommodated within the BSP.
If Mulayam, being a wrestler that he is, goes ahead with fielding candidates in all the 105 seats being contested by the Congress, things could get quite discomfiting. And one could very well ask, on which symbol?
Whatever may be the symbol that Mulayam candidates may take, it will undoubtedly dampen the enthusiasm of the Congress, as these candidates will play spoilsport for others. Now one can ask, if that will be the ultimate masterstroke of the master wrestler to seize the battle.