Novelist Mario Puzo may have coined the maxim “behind every fortune there is a crime” for the Sicilian mafias. But in the treacherous ravines of central UP once infested with dacoits, particularly in Etawah, politics often runs like a thriller whose denouement is marked by suspense and acute unpredictability.
Those who think that the spectacles at Lucknow following the tiff among various factions of the Mulayam Singh Yadav clan is a closed chapter would rue their conclusion sooner than later. In the historical and cultural context of the Etawah and Chambal ravines, revenge is habitually nursed and taken as a matter of pride.
It is quite unlikely that the feud driven by jealousies and competing ambitions among various factions of the state’s most powerful family would easily abate. More so because the shadow of a high class power-broker and powerful middle-man from Gujarat, who also doubles up as leader of medical professionals, lurks behind the ongoing power-struggle in the Yadav clan.
Insiders in the UP government narrate that the middle-man was instrumental in the removal of Gayatri Prajapati from the Akhilesh Yadav cabinet.
After a series of meetings among leaders of various family factions, however, Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav managed to put across the message that the skeletons in the family cop board would remain uncovered. Shivpal Yadav would be reinstated with honours by his son and UP Chief Minister Akhilesh. And Gayatri Prajapati would get his job back as well, which he lost due to intrigues by “outsiders”.
But how did the intrigue begin? The story doing the rounds in Lucknow reveals that the middle-man, who claims to have good access in the NDA government, exploited Mulayam’s gullibility by convincing him about the possibility of Prajapati’s arrest by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
Prajapati’s role is in fact being investigated by the CBI as he is accused of running an illegal mining business across the state, running into thousands of crores. Given Prajapati’s proximity to the Yadav clan, the fear of CBI action was expected to singe Akhilesh and other members of the family.
Though Prajapati was sacked on account of the fear of action by CBI, the patriarch Mulayam, is learnt to have found the veracity of the story of CBI action suspect. The story is believed to have been created to upset the equations within the Samajwadi Party (SP), by making Shivpal the state’s party chief in order to gain control over the organisation before the state Assembly elections next year.
As it happens in a family drama, members of the family held a series of meetings and blamed “outsiders” for ruining filial ties, and convinced 'Neta ji' about the machinations against the Yadav clan. If one looks at the climax, it would appear to be a happy ending of a sordid drama involving the state’s most influential political family. But such a conclusion would be based in a wrong reading of the impulses and tendencies that guide the power politics of the Chambal ravines.
Mulayam was absolutely right when he said that he would not let the family split as long as he is there. Since he alone built the political capital in the state, with his sheer grit and determination, anybody opposing him within the family is bound to be doomed.
Shivpal is far too immersed in Etawah's culturing mooring to know the rules of the game. His professed loyalty to his elder brother is borne out more for his sense of survival than brotherly love. At the same time, Mulayam has made it clear that his political legacy belongs to his son, Akhilesh.
On his part, Akhilesh has also drawn a line to which he can be pushed. In this round of the family feud, the Yadav clan has unambiguously chosen Akhilesh as inheritor of Neta ji’s legacy.
But it would be naïve to see this truce in the family as the end. On the other hand, it will mark the beginning of an end. Like a domineering man from Etawah’s turbulent land, Shivpal is not known for taking things lying down.
In politics as in the underworld, revenge is a dish best served cold. And Shivpal is in the company of shadowy power-brokers and middle-men who would do everything to inflate the ego of the defeated man. Apparently the next round is going to be much more bitter and internecine than we can possibly anticipate.