Samajwadi Party splits? No one knows for sure until Mulayam chooses between brother and son

“If you are not confused, you are not paying attention”, says one of the best management gurus of the modern era, Tom Peters. True! Tom Peters’ oft-quoted remark appears even more accurate when you try to make heads or tails of the ongoing intra-party politics of the Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh. You are bound to get confused, even flummoxed.

File image of Mulayam Singh Yadav. PTI

File image of Mulayam Singh Yadav. PTI

Little wonder then that, in the immediate aftermath of uncle Shivpal’s announcement regarding the formation of a new secular front on Friday, Firstpost carried its story with a question mark; and rightly so: “Samajwadi Party splits? Shivpal Yadav to float new party ‘Samajwadi Secular Morcha’ to be headed by Mulayam”.

Observers of UP politics know it for a certainty that Shivpal’s break-away move means nothing unless Mulayam does two things: First, he chooses to openly throw his weight behind his brother. And second, he deserts his son fully, finally and publicly. So far, none of these things have happened.

Nevertheless, Shivpal, who looks bent upon further distancing himself from his nephew, is an angry, old man. In fact, he had given a piece of his mind twenty-four hours before he took the final plunge.

Talking to reporters at Etawah on Thursday, he didn't mince words while sounding the warning: “Akhilesh had promised to hand over the party to 'Netaji'. (In UP, Netaji means only one thing – Mulayam Singh Yadav). Let him live up to his promise and we all shall strengthen the SP. I had also given him three months' time to implement what he had promised. Those who are now trying to teach me lessons on party's constitution should read the Bhagavad Gita. Everyone knows that it is Netaji – and Netaji alone – who has built this party through his blood and sweat. And let it be clear once and for all that I shall listen to only Netaji. None else.”

His angry outbursts apart, it’s significant that Shivpal hasn’t resigned from the official Samajwadi Party. Nor does he plan to do so in the near future. And for his part, Mulayam Singh Yadav, in this context, hasn’t spoken a word. He neither supports nor opposes Shivpal’s move. He keeps mum. They all want him to take a position. But he hasn't. And maybe he won't.

Nobody knows Mulayam’s mind for sure. Akhilesh is as much in the dark as Shivpal or, for that matter, Ramgopal. And almost the entire rank and file of the Samajwadi Party is kept on tenterhooks.

The Congress is equally confused. Its leaders are seen to be treading extremely cautiously while dealing with the SP leadership. Here is an example as reported by Firstpost on 3 May: “As part of her party's efforts to evolve consensus among opposition parties on a common candidate for upcoming presidential election, Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Wednesday spoke to Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh Yadav and RJD chief Lalu Prasad. Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi also reached out to Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav in connection with the presidential polls.”

Sensible! At a time when confusion remains worse confounded, it’s better to keep both father and son in good humour. Sonia talks to Mulayam. And Rahul does business with Akhilesh. Wonderful.

Can you now describe the formation of the Samajwadi Secular Morcha by Shivpal as a split in the party? No. The Samajwadi Party is intact, even with the rebellious Shivpal continuing to be a member of its legislative wing and Mulayam remaining neutral.

But what will happen in the near future? Perhaps, nothing much. Shivpal may have to eat humble pie once again. On the one hand, the party patriarch would, as usual, deliver a fatherly scolding to his son in public while on the other make his ‘favourite brother’ see reason in the interest of the party and family unity.

Let’s not forget that Mulayam happens to be one of the most unpredictable politicians in this country. You may recollect what happened during the fight for party symbol between father and son before the Election Commission earlier this year: Mulayam had conveniently forgotten to back up his claim by staying silent when asked to produce documents that supported his contention. The result: Akhilesh got not only leadership of the party but the symbol as well.

That’s Mulayam singh Yadav for you.

Updated Date: May 06, 2017 11:30 AM

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