Mulayam Singh Yadav is a pragmatic regional leader who understands his party’s role in coalition politics. Having been part of different alliances at different points in time, Yadav knows how not to rock a boat and yet ensure his demands are met; unlike Mamata who is far more volatile. Also, given his current popularity in his home state of Uttar Pradesh, the Congress is perhaps keeping an eye on the 2014 polls by keeping him closer than Mamata.
The UPA II should be wary of Mulayam Singh Yadav. Mamata Banerjee is unpredictable but Mulayam, a seasoned politician, is a tricky customer. He would certainly extract his pound of flesh from the gove rnment for extending support to it. The only question is when and how. He could ask for a significant portfolio or even pitch himself as the presidential candidate, putting the Congress game plan in jeopardy. Let’s wait and watch.