Shivpal Yadav starts Samajwadi storm again: How SP is struggling to counter BJP juggernaut

Shivpal Singh Yadav, Mulayam’s brother and Akhilesh’s chacha, has finally announced the formation of a new party ‘Samajwadi Secular Morcha’. Samajwadis' entire ideology is built on secularism and they oppose communalism, so I don’t understand why the word ‘secular’ has been placed in the middle.

Akhilesh camp has alleged in the past that Shivpal has been conspiring against the family at the behest of Amar Singh and BJP. So the word ‘secular’ has been used as an assurance that this morcha has to do nothing with BJP and send a positive signal to anchor minority vote segment of Mulayam.

The family drama started sometime in October last year, culminating into ascendancy of Akhilesh Yadav as President of Samajwadi Party and sidelining of Mulayam. It has taken a new turn with this announcement. However, this was expected for some time.

A file photo of former chief minister of UP Akhilesh Yadav and senior SP leader Shivpal Yadav. PTI

A file photo of former chief minister of UP Akhilesh Yadav and senior SP leader Shivpal Yadav. PTI

Akhilesh had promised that he will step down from party president post in three months which he didn’t fulfil. He knows giving any leeway to Shivpal camp at this juncture when there is anger or discontent among section of MLAs on account of poor performance in Vidhan Sabha elections could be disastrous.

The announcement may be a pressure tactic by Mulayam camp to force Akhilesh to hand him over the Presidency of Samajwadi Party back. I don’t think this may work though.

Shivpal claims support of Mulayam, I am not doubting he doesn’t have his blessings. However, even chacha knows his brother, is a slippery entity. Mulayam is known for not sticking to his words and changing stance on daily basis as evident during family drama. Love for the ‘son’ may hold him back still and he can still retain the title of ‘ultimate platu’ of Indian politics.

The entire episode stems from Mulayam’s desire to achieve more in life. He is 77 years old, not that old, from perspective of Indian politics. Manmohan Singh was 79 years old when he assumed Prime Ministerial Office in 2009. Mulayam missed out an opportunity to become PM in 1996, the two Yadavs, spoiled chances of each other, leading to selection of Deve Gowda.

Mulayam, a three-term chief minister of UP and former Defence Minister, nurses national ambitions (PM, President, VP). He feels that since he is one of the most popular leaders of UP after VP Singh/Chandrasekhar/Vajpayee, he deserves a chance to be PM like others.

It is this national ambition (kuch kar gujarne ki chaah) which is driving this old man. With BJP gaining strength and talks of anti-BJP front being felt as the need of the hour, the wily fox, sees an opportunity. You can’t stop him from dreaming. Deve Gowda has given hope to every politician in India that he can become PM.

Mulayam through this morcha aspires to bring all socialist/Samajwadis/Janata Parivaar members under an umbrella and emerge leader/convener of the front. Well, a similar effort was initiated before Bihar polls in 2015. Six Janata Parivaar parties – SP, JDU, RJD, JDS, INLD, SJP – began talks to merge and form a formidable force to get back their past glory. BJP was unstoppable after 2014 and Nitish/Lalu fearing a rout and were rooting for unity.

Mulayam was to be named the President of the united Janata Dal (joint entity). This group would have presence in 4 states – UP, Bihar, Karnataka and Haryana accounting for 30% of Lok Sabha seats. The group also had planned to bring in other socialists like Naveen Patnaik, Ram Vilas Paswan, Ajit Singh on board later. Due to reasons unknown, Mulayam chickened out at the last minute. SP also formed a fourth front and put up candidates in all seats of Bihar, irking Lalu and Nitish.

Will Lalu and Nitish warm up to Mulayam’s overtures? Will Samadhi Lalu cajole Nitish to revive unity talks and make old war horse Mulayam head? This appears difficult to me. Nitish himself nurses prime ministerial ambitions. Nitish is at the forefront of opposition talks of putting up a joint candidate for presidential elections. There are also talks of making Nitish convener of a grand anti-BJP front.

All this means that Mulayam’s attempt may not bear fruits. The fact that he no longer controls the Samajwadi Party and has lost massive support in UP goes against him. There is a trust deficit factor with him.

Lohia the crusader of OBC reservations, the champion of poor and downtrodden, amongst the most vocal anti-Congress voices of independent India, will not be happy at the sorry state of his legacy. His apparent heirs Mulayam and Lalu have failed the ‘samajwad’ movement and responsible for disappearance of the movement from political landscape of India. The constant hobnobbing with Congress has robbed the movement of its novelty.

The ‘samajwad’ which Lohia preached has had a natural death. The new age ‘samajwadis’ hunger for power and ‘parivarwad’ has hastened this process. The ego and personal ambitions have superseded the principles of economic equality, class less society and parity for all.

The new morcha is an attempt by Mulayam and Shivpal to fulfil their aspirations and boost their declining career graph. Even politically this may not achieve the desired objectives.

Updated Date: May 06, 2017 13:17 PM

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