On the surface of it, son Akhilesh Yadav has lost round two to father Mulayam Singh Yadav, uncle Shivpal Singh Yadav and "outsider" Amar Singh. But then this is a long-drawn protracted war, which involves battle of nerves, muscle and ill-gotten economic power, palace intrigue, backroom conspiracies and counter conspiracies, clashing interests of cronies who would be out to put everything they have within their might to protect their social, political and financial fiefdom intact.
It will continue to unfold in all its potential dimensions in days, months and even years to come. The first call on victor and vanquished will be taken by people of Uttar Pradesh in February-March 2017. A final call may have to wait for some more years, a next to next general election. Till then the biggest ever political reality show will grip the students of politics and the conscience of the people, at least those who would care.
Akhilesh has shown an appetite to engage in a longer term war, even if he has to capitulate in some early rounds, but not without displaying his grit of a fighter. He understands it’s kind of a war where applying brute force wouldn’t work as much as building a favourable public perception about him and winning popular sympathy. There he is one up against his baap, chacha, tau and whosoever others who are currently pitted against him.
In last two days, Akhilesh has been badly hurt, bruised, humiliated, publicly derided, lost post of state party president, his chief ministerial authority challenged and told that he was nobody in politics and has been there just because he was Mulayam Singh Yadav's son. Mulayam could be right but he does not realise that since the 2012 poll campaign, Akhilesh has emerged as a leader in his own right, with his own support base and his own sympthaiser.
Worse, the father told the world and the UP electorate in particular that Akhilesh was not a worthy son because he failed in winning 30-35 seats in UP for him, the numbers which could have made him (Mulayam) prime minister in 2014. To get those 30-35 MPs elected from UP to realise his pipe dream,
"What happened despite his being the CM? Only five members from the family won. If I had listened to Shivpal, we would have won 30-35 seats and I would have been the PM. If Akhilesh is unhappy with Shivpal because of this (appointment of the latter as the Samajwadi Party state chief), he should remember that people have accepted him as CM because he is my son. He never had any individual standing in politics," Mulayam told SP workers at the party headquarters.
Is Mulayam serious? Does he really think that if he had nominated brother Shivpal over Akhilesh to be UP chief minister in 2012 then he would have become prime minister in 2014, and not Narendra Modi? That statement should be enough to conclude that Mulayam has lost his nerves, wits, sense of proportion and judgment.
Take Netaji’s other prescription to become PM. It is of 'believe it or not' proportion — not to have any metro rail service in the state. He thinks metro rail it as a wasteful expenditure, an evil urban transport project which Akhilesh needs to stop. He ridiculed his chief minister son for laying an ambitious metro project network in the state.
The three-time chief minister seems to be envious of his son’s onward march. No sane party chief and family patriarch would lampoon his own party’s poll campaign yatra, that too when it is to be led by his chief minister-son. Mulayam does not want Akhilesh to get any credit for the mandate of whatever kind it gets in 2017. He derides latter governance projects, his poll campaign, cuts his influence down and bares his Amar Prem gatha.
Mulayam forgets rules and tricks of the game, wrestling, where he used to be champion, has been changed with the passage of time. More so, whatever art he had of the game has been lost due to ageing. He may be deeply beholden to Shivpal and Amar for whatever reasons, but they wouldn’t be able to make him win an open match.
Beyond that band of rent seekers and vested interests Mulayam would not get any support from public. "Do you know who Amar Singh is?" — he had thundered at Samajwadi Party office on Saturday. It does not matter what Mulayam or Amar think, but people all across India surely have a view on the controversial Rajya Sabha MP. If one goes by Netaji’s speech or rants delivered on Saturday, one would conclude that practices and preaches a perverse Samjwad.
Left on his own, son Akhilesh could any day do a political dhobipchad to chacha Shivpal and all his muscle men, contractor followers. In contrast to the likes of Shivpal and Amar, he, so far, has earned the image of a credible and well-intentioned politician with a will to take on his adversaries.
It was clear to anyone who covered the 2012 poll campaign that the mandate to Samajawdi Party was for netaji as force and Akhilesh as CM face. Shivpal’s prescription to winning the election in 2012 was inclusion of gangster DP Yadav in Party. Uncle’s aborted prescription for 2017 had been same — merger of dreaded criminal Muktar Ansari's party with Samjawadi to consolidate Muslim votes. Thanks to Akhilesh both these regressive moves didn’t work.
But Akhilesh can’t believe in the truce formula that he would get a greater say in ticket distribution. Given his father and uncle’s public aversion for him, it is difficult that as party bosses they would yield their biggest source of authority to someone else. A party ticket means nothing till the party president sings on letter on latter head naming that particular person and the constituency concerned to the Election Commission for allotment of party symbol.
The future course and its winner or loser would be decided on basis of who fields how many candidates and how many of their candidates win.
The BJP and BSP have a reason to cheer.