As the high drama continues to be played at the Samajwadi Party Headquarters in Lucknow on Monday, questions are being raised on the party's prospects in the forthcoming assembly elections. The two warring groups, one headed by UP Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav and his uncle Ram Gopal Yadav, and the other by Mulayam Singh Yadav, Amar Singh and Shivpal Yadav exchange high-power emotional ammunition, the future of Yadav clan in UP seems to have received its worst setback.
Over a fortnight back, when the battle for political turf between the two groups had just begun, a senior leader closed to Mulayam had told Open that the Samajwadi patriarch would never like to end up being a Shah Jahan. The Mughal emperor had favoured his son Dara Shikoh as his successor that led to bloody battles between the brothers. In the end, Aurangzeb was successful in killing his brothers and overtaking his father's throne during the second half of 17th century. Mulayam Singh, like Shah Jahan, has fought several political and ideological battle during his lifetime, but for the first time he seems to have been cornered by his own son.
While political battles continue within the party, the ruling Samajwadi Party is also gearing up to celebrate its 25th anniversary on November 5 this year, a rare feat achieved by a regional party in North India in recent times. The silver jubilee celebration in Lucknow has been planned under the leadership of party president and founder Mulayam Singh. But now it looks like the 25 years old party would get divided just before the celebration.
For the party, Sunday was an action-packed day as the events start unfolding one after the another. The day started with a letter by Party general secretary Ram Gopal Yadav who urged party workers to stand with Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav claiming that victory is where Akhilesh is. The letter negated the reconciliation efforts between the father and the son by some senior party leaders.
At 11 AM on Sunday, in an apparent show of strength, 183 MLAs out of 224 of the party appeared at a meeting called by the chief minister at his residence. The MLAs also signed a resolution to be with the chief minister in whatever he decides. An excited Akhilesh took no time in suspending his uncle and Mulayam’s close aide Shivpal Yadav along with three other ministers from his Cabinet.
He also announced that he will be beginning his Yatra scheduled for 3 November, for the silver jubilee celebration. Akhilesh was trying to put things in the right perspective. He accused Amar Singh of creating the current crisis in the family and presented himself as the true successor of Mulayam Singh.
Now it was the turn of Mulayam and Shivpal. Around 2 PM in the afternoon, Shivpal Yadav called a press conference where he vented out its anger against Ram Gopal Yadav. When the close-knit political family got divided, more and more skeletons started coming out of the closet. Who would have thought that one day Shivpal Yadav would accuse his cousin Ram Gopal Yadav of corruption and hatching a conspiracy.
Sources reveal that Mulayam had already taken a decision to expel Ram Gopal and the announcement was to be made on 24 October when Mulayam was supposed to meet the party workers. But when Akhilesh suspended Shivpal, the decision was announced quickly to give a befitting reply to the chief minister.
Unarguably, the biggest loser in the current battle is Mulayam Singh Yadav. Everyone in the party except him and Shivpal feels that Amar Singh is at the center of the crisis.
But Mulayam is not ready to bow down to the popular demands. Mulayam’s Amar prem was a bone of contention right from May this year when Amar Singh was announced as a Rajya Sabha candidate by the party. But since it was Mulayam’s decision, everyone including Akhilesh respected it. However, things have gone too far now and the vertical division within the family is split wide open.
Mulayam might think that he is the biggest leader of the party. But Akhilesh has earned an image of a clean politician who wants to work for his people. But a common perception is that his father doesn’t let him do so. The presence of a large number of MLAs at his residence was a clear indication to Mulayam that leadership has now shifted and he no longer remains the first choice of party workers.
Mulayam is a fighter and won’t quit the battle so easily. The patriarch is expected to come up with more announcements like Ram Gopal's and would hold his ground till the last. The battle this time is however, different. Rather than political opponents outside, he is fighting an inner battle where his son is proving his strongest contender.