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UP Election: If Akhilesh Yadav wins 2017 polls, he can test Narendra Modi in 2019

"Yesterday is history, tomorrow is mystery. And today? Today is a gift. That’s why we call it the present."

Indeed, this age-old maxim fits in perfectly with Akhilesh Yadav, who got a wonderful New Year's gift on Sunday — the berth of Samajwadi Party national president, and along with it, all the powers that were earlier enjoyed by his father, Mulayam Singh Yadav.  For the new monarch of the Samajwadi Party kingdom, the Sunday that saw a series of quarrels, palace intrigue and even unfathomable conspiracies has slipped into the past. Happily. But what happens on Monday? Nobody knows. It’s election time. For an answer, let’s wait till we get to see the people's verdict after the election.

It’s significant that two individuals, who were seen as villains of an intra-party war — Amar Singh and Shivpal Singh Yadav — were punished by Sunday’s convention. While Amar was expelled from the party, Shivpal lost his post of state president. In retaliation, Mulayam described the convention as unconstitutional. On his part, he once again suspended Ram Gopal Yadav from the party for six years.

File image of Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav. PTI

File image of Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav. PTI

Be that as it may, one thing is crystal clear even in the heat and dust raised by the day's tumultuous developments: Mulayam stands isolated. The party that he had built brick-by-brick through his blood and sweat, has slipped out of his grasp. Sad but true. Not that only has the son risen in rebellion; almost the whole party has shifted its loyalty. Fully and finally. It’s a complete generational change.

Forget the legal wrangles over the propriety of Sunday's 'national convention' that crowned Akhilesh as per the wishes of more than two-thirds of party MLAs, MPs and organisational office bearers. Television debates and constitutional arguments and counter-arguments will keep cropping up in the face of Mulayam’s resistence. But these things don’t really matter in politics. What matters more is the fact that an overwhelming majority of the party’s cadres from state headquarters to panchayat levels has shifted its loyalty in favour of the rising son. It was there for all to see.

Make no mistake; both Akhilesh and Ram Gopal did their homework rather well as reported earlier. They consulted top legal luminaries. They sought suggestions from party seniors. And, while strategising, they factored in all possible pros and cons of their moves.

It was obvious that they had drawn lessons from the historic Indira Gandhi-sponsored 'Syndicate versus Indicate' fight of the 1960s. The script looked exactly the same: Requisition a special national convention of the party, throw away unwanted elements in full public view, elect your own leader and do as you like thereafter.

For the moment, Akhilesh is seen to be racing against time preparing a fresh list of party candidates for the upcoming polls. That’s not an easy task, because he has to leave room for prospective allies, should he decides to align with Congress, RLD and some other parties for the all important showdown against Narendra Modi’s BJP and Mayawati’s BSP. Judging by his earlier statements, an alliance with the Congress looks more probable than ever before for three reasons:

First, Akhilesh and Rahul Gandhi continue to admire each other, even more so after demotetisation.

Second, Mulayam is now in no position to pose a hindrance.

And third, the new Samajwadi Party boss thinks beyond 2017 just like Narendra Modi does.

Akhilesh knows one thing for certain: If he passes the 2017 test with distinction, he will be the tallest regional leader to take on Modi in 2019. And, in the process, his Samajwadi Party gets re-established regaining all its lost glory — in spite of the wars in the pari-war.

Updated Date: Jan 02, 2017 11:26 AM

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