"Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies, said Groucho Marx.
This is precisely what has caused the serial political bomb-blasts that rocked Lucknow this month.
Let’s discuss the incorrect diagnosis leading to the knee-jerk reactions and wrong remedies first: The chief minister’s leadership of the poll-bound state unit of the ruling party has been snatched away and given to his uncle, Shivpal Singh Yadav by Mulayam Singh Yadav. In turn, Shivpal who held the number two slot in Akhilesh’s cabinet, has lost all his portfolios.
Two ministers, Gayatri Prasad Prajapati and Raj Kishore Singh, who were believed to be close confidants of the redoubtable party supremo Mulayam Singh were sacked by the chief minister on charges of graft. And Deepak Singhal, state chief secretary, who was perhaps closer to number 2 rather than number 1 in the government, lost his position unceremoniously. There is chaos within the Samajwadi Party. And perhaps within the government too.
But what’s the correct diagnosis? And what will happen next from here on? These are questions that can be answered only if we understand the mindset of the powers that be in the right perspective.
There is a huge generation gap between the son Akhilesh Yadav and his team and the father Mulayam Singh Yadav, uncles and their confidants on the other. The two generations think differently and act separately. Blood is the only thing that unites them. Nothing else.
The two streets that literally run parallel to each other in Lucknow — Kalidas Marg — where Akhilesh lives and Vikramaditya Marg, where Mulayam resides, look like the proverbial two banks of a river that would never meet.
Akhilesh is a 42-year-old gentleman with modern mindset. After receiving his early education at Dholpur Military School in Rajasthan, the young Yadav went to Mysore to do his bachelor’s course in civil engineering. Thereafter, he went to Sydney to complete his master’s degree in environmental civil engineering. You can’t blame him if he feels too concerned about the environment within his party.
Remember, he had opposed tooth and nail to the entry of ‘underworld dons’ into his party in the run-up to the 2012 elections. He again resisted the merger between Don Mukhtar Ansari’s Qaumi Ekta Dal and SP last month. In the past four and a half years, Akhilesh’s main focus has been on ‘politics of development’. And he succeeded in his endeavour to a large extent.
Works on metro rail projects are being carried out in a grand scale in Lucknow, Noida, Greater Noida and Ghaziabad. Lucknow’s Gomti river front is being beautified like never before. And the 6-lane Lucknow-Agra expressway is almost complete. He now wants to give smart phones to the youths of UP.
Contrastingly, Mulayam Singh was educated in the tough and rough lands of Etawah and Shikohabad in Ruhelkhand. He has come up in life the hard way. A disciple of Ram Manohar Lohia and Choudhary Charan Singh, he knows his politics. Even more importantly, he has mastered the art of winning elections over the years. He is a 77-year-old war horse.
You can’t blame Mulayam Singh if tries to tell his son, both directly and through his actions, that the chief minister and his government will survive only when the party lives on. His message is clear: Win the elections first. And bring people into the party-fold who can help you win seats. Don’t get swayed by talks about development politics and good governance; survive first and perform next. In politics, survival is synonymous with winning elections.
Don’t be surprised if the merger between the QED and the SP becomes a reality sooner than later despite Akhilesh’s opposition. Led by a controversial mafia don, the QED is quite popular among Muslims in eastern Uttar Pradesh.
Perhaps, Mulayam Singh and his brothers, Shivpal and Ramgopal, have retained in their mind what they had learnt in faraway Assam: The BJP’s resounding victory was based on the failure of the Congress and Badruddin Ajmal’s AIUDF to come together in a pre-poll tie-up. They don’t want to repeat the mistake in UP. And that’s why the tussle that you see in the corridors of power in Lucknow.
All said and done, two things are crystal clear in Lucknow: First, Mulayam Singh Yadav remains the boss within the party. And second, Akhilesh calls all the shots in the government. The game of one-upmanship between the party and the government goes on in the meantime.
And chances are that it would continue to go on in the run-up to the elections for the simple reason that the patriarch loves his brothers as much as his son. It’s a family affair.