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Akhilesh Yadav nullifies merger with QED: Will it yield dividends in 2017 polls?

Dreaded jailed don Mukhtar Ansari's party Qaumi Ekta Dal (QED) will not merge with Samajwadi Party. The proposed merger which was announced with all the required fanfare only four days ago by no less than Shivpal Yadav now stands null and void. As per the new settlement, the sacked minister Balram Yadab, who had to bear the brunt for mediating this merger, will be honourably re-instated to the state Cabinet.

Prima facie it should be taken as a huge setback to Shivpal Yadav, the heavyweight minister, who is the younger brother of Mulayam Singh Yadav and uncle of CM Akhilesh Yadav. But that is not the case. Shivpal is as strong as ever. After all, the other day Shivpal had said that decision to embrace the Ansari brothers — Mukhtar, Afzal and Sigbatullaha — was taken after explicit approval of Mulayam Singh. That is understandable also.

File photo of Akhilesh Yadav. PTI

File photo of Akhilesh Yadav. PTI

Does this mean that Mulayam too had to make a U-turn and eat crow? The answer is no. Mulayam's words continue to be law in Samajwadi Party, perhaps even more now than ever. He held a meeting of his clan and senior leaders and gave the impression of a democratic set up but did what was always believed would be done – nullify the merger.

The turn of events from 21 to 25 June was too dramatic to be true. In politics, reality at times is different from what is seen on the surface. It all played like a perfect script where everyone essayed his role to perfection, including Balram Yadav who was seen in tears, vouching his loyalty to Mulayam and "visionary" Akhilesh. Except for letting the world know that Balram would be a minister again, the SP didn't care to explain why he was sacked three days back if he was to be reinstated. Was it a wrong decision to sack him? Or did Akhilesh have to yield to Mulayam and Shivpal? Or did Balram become a virtuous person, instead of the fall guy, in a span of three days?

For Samajwadi clan this is happy time. Time even to celebrate. Yes, QED is also not complaining, at least so far. They also had something to gain. Mukhtar Ansari, who is in jail for the murder of BJP MLC Krishnand Rai, has been shifted closer to his own area of influence — from Agra Jail to Lucknow Jail. Mukhtar is an MLA, as is his brother Sigbatullaha. In all likelihood both of them will contest the 2017 Assembly elections and win. Beyond ensuring their own victories, they can favour SP for the goodwill and honour the party leadership showed to them. Both QED and SP can live happily, supporting each other, without marrying and the advantages to both are huge.

Some are already calling it Mulayam's political "masterstroke".

In the 2017 election campaigns, Samajwadi Party will now project Akhilesh Yadav as the messiah against the mafioso, someone who has the grit and conviction to stand against them, no matter who they are, no matter what votes they bring in and no matter who they are aligned with in his own family. The implicit message is that Uttar Pradesh couldn't be safer in anyone else's hands.

This has happened before. In January 2012, in the thick of electioneering for the Assembly elections, Akhilesh had bluntly rejected Azam Khan's move to induct a western UP Mafioso DP Yadav into Samajwadi Party. That again was very dramatic. Azam Khan, who was then considered to be most powerful leader in Samajwadi Party after Mulayam, had in a public rally in Rampur announced that DP Yadav was joining SP. A few days later, Akhilesh declared his rejection of DP Yadav's style of politics in another public rally and said, "SP will not take DP Yadav".

From that moment on, Akhilesh was hailed as the worthy son and successor of Mulayam, someone who had the guts to display zero tolerance to goondaism, even rub the likes of Azam Khan in the wrong way. SP won the elections hands down.

But in the last five years, the Akhilesh Yadav government has come to be known for the complete breakdown of law and order, pampering goondaism, rise of the mafioso, land grabbing incidents and so on. Two incidents - the recent one in Mathura where a land grabber called Ram Virksha Yadav and his goons killed a superintendent of police and a police inspector, and reports (albeit untrue) of mass migration from Kairana due to threats from local goons and administration looking the other way — have badly dented Akhilesh's image as an administrator and the ruling SP as a responsible party.

A series of ads issued by Akhilesh government boasted of improvement in law and order. A radio ad even likened policing in Lucknow with the one in New York. But the situation on the ground was just the reverse.

Akhilesh's move to blame Balram Yadav for the QED and Samajwadi Party merger, to sack him when the world knows that a decision of this nature couldn't be taken without the explicit nod of Mulayam Singh Yadav, to leak the news that he (Akhilesh) was very unhappy with the decision – all this can either be real or tactical for public consumption. That's something which can't ever be said with authority and would remain in the realm of informed speculation. But the decision to annull the merger with Mukhtar's QED has given Akhilesh's image in the run up to 2017 Assembly elections a much-needed boost.

The script is the same as in 2012. Will it yield the same dividend? That is anybody's guess.

Updated Date: Jun 25, 2016 19:57 PM

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