“Ram Gopal Yadav wants to create a new political party by the name of Akhil Bharatiya (All India) Samajwadi Party with ‘motorcycle’ as the election symbol. He has met leaders of the BJP at least four times so far. Ram Gopal’s son and daughter in-law are allegedly involved in a case and Ram Gopal wants to save them, hence he wants to make a party to help the BJP by weakening the Samajwadi Party.”
The above “revelations”, not exactly new for the people of Uttar Pradesh, were made by Samajwadi Party (SP) founder Mulayam Singh Yadav before a gathering of a few hundred supporters and the media at the party head office in Lucknow on Wednesday, shortly before he flew off to New Delhi. He was accompanied by brother Shivpal and leveled these allegations by seeking the affirmation of the assembled people.
Coming on a day after Mulayam and his chief minister son Akhilesh had a long meeting in Lucknow, the assertions by the father were repetitive in the sense that he tried to lay all the blame for the current, prolonged woes of the SP on Ram Gopal, while insisting that son Akhilesh had been “misled” by Ram Gopal. It was also an emotional appeal to his supporters and that it was life’s hard work that was apparently being wrecked by Ram Gopal.
It is another matter that around the same time, most UP ministers and SP legislators and other office bearers, had gathered at the chief minister’s official residence on Kalidas Marg. The contrast could not be starker, if one goes by the strength of the crowd at the two places.
Mulayam said the party was born out of a prolonged struggle and the genuine Samajwadis were worried at the turn of events now. He also said he was trying his best to avoid a split within the party, and insisted that he would never agree to rename it or change its election symbol. Then he said that “one person” was behind all the conflict, and asked the crowd to name him: The response was “Ram Gopal” and he said, yes, he is the one.
Clearly, Mulayam tried to play the emotional card with his supporters, regardless of their number, by saying that it was because of his efforts that the party had become strong, and Akhilesh was there only because of the party behind him. However, since Mulayam has already announced that Akhilesh would be the chief minister in case the SP wins the coming Vidhan Sabha election, and he has also agreed to give all other powers to his son except for the national party president’s post, the allegations made on Wednesday were more in the nature of a last-ditch effort to consolidate his hold over his staunch followers in the party, since most others seem to have deserted him in favour of Akhilesh.
On the other hand, sources say that the Akhilesh camp is ready with the plan to have a pre-election alliance with the Congress, Janata Dal (United) and the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD). The formula of seat division is said to be ready with the Akhilesh faction contesting 300 seats, followed by 80 for the Congress and the rest for the RLD. A day ago, the outline of the alliance was reported to have been finalised in the Congress party at a meeting where Rahul Gandhi presided. Meetings between Rahul and Akhilesh, and between Priyanka Vadra and Dimple Yadav, wife of Akhilesh, are also said to be on the cards in this connection. On part of the JD(U), the alliance formula was said to have been ratified at a meeting held in Patna a day ago.
The first round of polling is to be held in Uttar Pradesh on 11 February, and while the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) has released the list of 400 candidates for the 403-member Assembly, the BJP list is likely in the next three or four days. While the picture on the SP front is not yet clear, the Congress is apparently waiting for the existence of two factions of the SP to become official.
While the Election Commission is set to hear rival claims over the election symbol on 13 January, reports also say that Mulayam has sent feelers, through Amar Singh, to the Lok Dal to seek permission to use the latter’s symbol in case ‘cycle’ is frozen. The Lok Dal was founded by former Prime Minister Charan Singh and its symbol is of a farmer ploughing the field. The Lok Dal president Sunil Singh is reported to have said that leaders close to Mulayam had approached him showing interest in contesting the polls on the LD symbol. He added that he was “interested” in giving the symbol to Mulayam. It is expected that Mulayam will try to establish his claim of being the “political heir” of Charan Singh and a benefactor of farmers.