Samajwadi Party crisis is power struggle: Don't mistake it for ideological warfare

“Political language... is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind”, remarked George Orwell in his celebrated essay Politics and the English Language. On Sunday morning, the ongoing power tussle between two ‘fractions’ of Samajwadi Party (SP) reached another level of ‘no return’ and speaks volumes about a narrative is slowly being built that masquerades self interests as larger good.

Flanked by his uncle Ramgopal Yadav, Akhilesh Yadav on Sunday morning told the workers of the party that Mulayam Singh Yadav continues to hold the highest position in the party. “If Netaji had asked me to step down from the post of state president then I would have done so. If there’s a conspiracy against the party or Netaji, it is my duty to stop it. I am netaji’s son. No one can hurt our relationship. I will do anything to protect him and the party.” said Akhilesh, as reported by The Indian Express.

This statement by the Akhilesh Yadav was preceded by the an announcement made by Ramgopal Yadav who while speaking at the meeting said that the national executive of Samajwadi Party on Sunday ‘unanimously’ elected Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav as the party’s national president.

However, the decision was termed as unconstitutional by SP supreme Mulayam Singh Yadav.

Another important announcement made by Ramgopal Yadav was regarding removal of Shivpal Yadav as party’s UP chief and sacking of Amar Singh from the party. While making this announcement Ramgopal also added that national convention has proposed that Mulayam be considered as the party’s supreme leader, assuming the role of a mentor.

File photo of Akhilesh Yadav. Reuters

File photo of Akhilesh Yadav. Reuters

Here it becomes amply clear that in the foreground of this clichéd ‘pari-war’ of Samajwadi party lies a an innate power-tussle. It is a fight between two fractions of political parties, who claims their right on it for different reasons.

Akhilesh’s assertion over the reins of the party; that his father has built with “hard work” stems more form the fact of being the eldest heir of this political dynasty than from a quest to “save the party which some elements are trying to destroy”.

In Shivapal's claim to the reins of party that “he built along with his brother “ lies a fact that he considers himself the co-parcener of this political empire.

But in all these assertions, projecting this power tussle as a fight to keep 'criminal elements out of politics', is nothing short of a pretentious hyperbole.

On 10 December when Samajwadi Party decided to give a ticket to alleged don Atiq Ahmed, and Mukhtar Ansari's brother Sibaqtullah Ansari for the upcoming Assembly elections, it left Akhilesh Yadav fuming.

When in October last Akhilesh sacked Shivpal and his supporters from the cabinet it was seen as impending split of the Samajwadi Party. But with the timely intervention of Mulayam Singh Yadav, a truce was brokered. However, the simmering dislike between Akhilesh and Shivpal Yadav became public.

The reason for the acrimonious struggle between Akhilesh and Shivpal was the former’s opposition to a merger with the Qaumi Ekta Dal, a regional outfit in eastern UP led by the Ansari brothers.

A narrative was being built in Uttar Pradesh that here is a young chief minister who wants to clean up the system. He wants to keep ‘criminal elements’ out of stock. The ‘Mr Clean’ image that Akhilesh was trying to built for himself by ‘stiff’ opposition to criminal elements was gradually getting acceptance.

In last one year Akhilesh was projected as 'lone crusader' against criminalisation of politics. In an article published in Mint in June 2016, titled “Akhilesh Yadav’s lonely fight against corruption and tainted leaders”, it was stated that “Akhilesh Yadav has signalled zero tolerance towards corruption and candidates with criminal background. Soon after alleged gangster-turned-politician Mukhtar Ansari’s Quami Ekta Dal merged with Samajwadi Party (SP), Akhilesh Yadav is planning to take up the issue with party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav during a high-level meeting of party leaders on 25 June, said senior SP leaders”.

In a profile of Akhilesh Yadav published in Caravan the writer states, “Soon after the by-elections the party started inviting applications for tickets for the 2012 assembly polls. Akhilesh began to look into these applications personally, joining senior party members as they interviewed prospective candidates. By this time, many party leaders understood that something was badly wrong with their old stratagems. A leader who was present at an internal review meeting after the 2009 Lok Sabha election recalled that Amar Singh, excoriating them for being out of touch, had asked the assembled group: “Do any of you know who Hannah Montana is?” No one did. Singh allegedly said, “Ask Akhilesh. He knows. That’s why we need the young generation leading the party.”

It further remarked, “Akhilesh, perhaps unwilling to rest on his laurels as the resident Disney expert, commissioned a round of surveys that conclusively established that voters were now seeing Samajwadi rule as a form of “goonda raj”— thug rule. He tried to minimise this, denying tickets to candidates whose chargesheets were hard to ignore, such as DP Yadav, accused in multiple murder cases. Out of 403 candidates, the party eventually fielded 85 who were under 40 years old. (In spite of efforts to clean up its image, however, the party still fielded the most candidates with criminal cases to their name in the 2012 polls.”

While this narrative is readily capturing the imagination of the people in Uttar Pradesh and has helped in garnering huge support as displayed in last few days, it will only be lack of political imagination to accept it on face value. The fact remains that all the parties in Uttar Pradesh has harboured, nourished and used mafia dons and criminals for political benefits. In this, the true intention behind Akhilesh’s opposition will become clear when he announce final list of candidates and actually succeeds in keeping ‘criminals’ away.

For now it is beyond doubt that the subtext of fight in Samajwadi Party is power struggle, let’s not mistake it with ideological warfare.


Updated Date: Jan 02, 2017 12:01 PM

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