Far from the dust-up that enveloped Uttar Pradesh’s ruling Samajwadi Party on Monday night, Amar Singh spent some very casual moments in faraway Kolkata, joking about the state’s political turmoil. He visited the office of the city’s top regional daily, met with some editors and even appeared on a television show with Virender Sehwag. He even had golgappas and kulfi in the city's iconic Chowringhee marketplace. There were rumours in Kolkata that Singh even attended a special prayer in the city.
Asked how he was feeling to be paired with the former Indian opener, Singh cryptically remarked: “I am Narad muni, I can be anywhere. My travels are not banned by the government, my passport has not been confiscated.”
A local newspaper quoted him calling Ram Gopal Yadav, his arch rival in the SP and a confidant of Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav a "eunuch".
“It is good to be in the limelight, one should try to be always in the limelight,” Singh told the producer of the show, reminding him how once he had created a ruckus after not been invited to a Shah Rukh Khan show in Sahara City for the visiting Indian and Pakistan cricket teams. The following day, all newspapers carried screaming headlines: "India’s biggest actor kept away from cricket show”. Now, Singh explained that he was never meant to be there because the show was private, but he was still peeved at not having been invited, and because Congress leader Rajiv Shukla was a part of the show. Sahara Group, the organisers, Singh even remembered, explained that Shukla was in attendance in his capacity as the BCCI vice-president but it was not enough to cool Singh.
Those in the studio found Singh — Indian politics' latest gadfly — in a jovial mood, far removed from the hustle and bustle of Uttar Pradesh. Singh, after the television show, told a few producers: “Wait for things to change in Uttar Pradesh, Netaji (Mulayam Singh Yadav) has all the numbers. Badlao aayega, bhala hoga, yeh aandhi bahut jald khatam hogi (which translates into “Change will come, the dust storm will soon be over”).”
When reminded that supporters of Akhilesh were burning his effigies and tearing up posters showing him with Mulayam, Singh remarked: "All politicians in India are hauled over the coals, I am not worried."
And then he dropped the bombshell: “If such disturbances continue, who knows, Netaji could take charge of the state before the polls.”
In the past two weeks, Singh has spent time with Mulayam’s family, exhorting the veteran politician how he (meaning Singh) should be in charge of distribution of tickets for the forthcoming polls, a move hotly resented by Akhilesh. Singh, claimed sources in the Indian Capital, has even encouraged Mulayam’s step son Prateek — who has been involved in fitness and animal rights — to get into politics. Singh has also encouraged Prateek’s wife, Aparna to get into active politics and fight as an SP candidate in the forthcoming elections. Singh has even introduced the two as the “future faces” of the party to a host of corporate honchos.
This is not all.
Mulayam’s wife Sadhna and brother Shivpal have been routinely consulting Singh on a host of issues, including special prayers to be conducted at the residence of Mulayam to ward off what Singh explained to them was impact of malefic planetary positions. A few priests from far-flung Kamakhya in Assam, known for tantric methods, were also called in at the behest of Singh, who also got a seasoned priest, Diwakar Sharma, to conduct the rituals.
People close to you should be totally loyal, there is no scope for dissent when elections are round the corner, Singh — it is learnt — has told Mulayam.
Political analysts in Uttar Pradesh claim Singh’s next target is to silence Azam Khan, a powerful SP leader and the route to Muslim votes, who had initially resented to Singh’s return to the party in May, 2016 but has remained silent ever since.
In May this year, Khan had called Singh’s Rajya Sabha nomination decision of Mulayam “unfortunate”. “As far as I think, this whole incident (nomination of Singh to Rajya Sabha) is unfortunate,” Khan had told reporters on 18 May. “Netaji malik hai aur malik ke faisle ko chunauti dena mere adhikar chhetra ke bahar hai (Mulayam is the party chief and to challenge his decision is beyond my rights),” he had then remarked.
But now, Khan finds himself in isolation. Singh is encouraging Mulayam to push Ashu Malik as the new face of Muslims in Uttar Pradesh, and even convinced sacked minister, Shivpal to sideline Khan.
That could be the next big wicket to fall.
The ruling SP, meanwhile, continues to remain in turmoil. Mulayam has publicly pulled up his son at a meeting to stamp his authority on the party on Monday which ended on a fiery note with Shivpal Yadav calling Akhilesh a “liar”. Yadav (Sr) has made it clear that he would never let go either his brother Yadav or long-time aide Singh, who the CM cannot stand.
The bitterness within is at an all-time high, it is good news for the BJP.
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Updated Date: Oct 25, 2016 13:20:27 IST