Mulayam Singh Yadav made a big announcement on Monday afternoon — that he will contest the election against son Akhilesh Yadav. A Yadav senior going against Yadav junior in the same constituency could be the mother of all of electoral battles.
But minutes later, all parties concerned realised that this was news that was not to be.
Consider the following: Firstly, Akhilesh will lead his party, Samjawadi or whatever name he gets approved from the Election Commission, but he is unlikely to contest the election from any of the Assembly seat. He is a member of the legislative council and will remain so. In Bihar, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has led his party JD(U) during the elections but did not contest the Assembly election, preferring to remain a member of the legislative council. Akhilesh is following the same pattern. So if Akhilesh is not contesting from any of the Assembly seat, how would Mulayam contest election against him from a particular constituency.
Secondly, a seasoned politician like Mulayam knows that he is fighting a losing battle against his son and also for power in Uttar Pradesh. Hypothetically, if he contests the Assembly election and wins, he would have to vacate one of the two, his prospective Assembly seat or his parliamentary seat. It will again be a challenge for him to win that seat, Assembly or parliamentary, for his nominee. If he fights the Assembly election and loses, Mulayam would lose whatever remaining aura that is left. The Samajwadi patriarch has become a king without a kingdom, party and state, both of which has been snatched away from him by son Akhilesh.
Third, those who know SP chieftain know that this is yet another classic ambiguous statement by Mulayam, open to multiple interpretations. To his supporters, he was playing both the victim card and that of a fighter. Wronged by treacherous son, he is fighting for his party, that he founded 25 years ago, along with younger brother Shivpal Yadav, a few other family members and loyalists like Amar Singh.
Playing the victim card, he said, "Maine teen baar Akhilesh ko bulaya par wo ek minute ke liye hi aaye aur meri baat shuru hone se pehle hi chale gaye (I called Akhilesh thrice but he came only for a minute and left even before I could speak)." He said that he had called his son to convince him and make him (Akhilesh) realise his mistakes, but the latter didn't pay attention.
He then acquired an aggressive tone vowing to fight for his dignity and to retain the faith of his followers, announcing that he will fight against son Akhilesh. His outburst among his gathered followers, mostly Muslims, was an indication that there was no scope left for a patch up between father and son. Fighting against his son meant leading his party against the party led by Akhilesh.
In a few hours, the Election Commission is expected to give its judgment on which warring faction gets to retain the party name (Samajwadi) and party symbol (cycle). There is also a possibility that the cycle symbol may get frozen and the warring leaders might have to fight for a new symbol and name.
In Lucknow, Akhilesh's supporters fixed his name plate below his father's — both claiming to be the national president of the Samajwadi Party. ANI tweeted a picture of both the name plates at SP headquarters.
Akhilesh Yadav's nameplate as National Pres put below Mulayam Singh Yadav's nameplate of the same designation at SP office in Lucknow pic.twitter.com/aLsbz192xy
— ANI UP (@ANINewsUP) January 16, 2017
Despite the Supreme Court's verdict saying that the parties and leaders couldn't use caste, creed, religion, language to seek votes in elections, Mulayam is said to have told his gathered supporters that Akhilesh had turned Muslims against Samajwadi Party and had given less number of tickets to Muslims. Mayawati too has been openly talking about Muslims, asking the minority community members not to waste their vote on Samajwadi Party, and vote for the BSP. It has to be seen how the Election Commission reacts to it.
Mulayam is trying to evoke sympathy for him. Here again he would be competing against his son. Akhilesh, as some surveys reveal, has an advantage over him.
Updated Date: Jan 16, 2017 18:18:01 IST