If Samajwadi Party falls, Akhilesh will have to overcome Mulayam and Shivpal
Akhilesh will have to first get over his biggest adversaries: His father who has the political and organisational muscle. And an uncle who has deep pockets.
Every time you wish to track the roots of a fight, follow the money.
At the core of the dispute between the Yadavs of Samajwadi Party is the dispute over who gets to keep the most lucrative departments in the state government.
Sometime this year, chief minister Akhilesh Yadav belatedly realised that departments that are famous for generating malai were all in Uncle Shivpal's grip. While Chacha was merrily dealing with all the big-budget departments that dole out lucrative tenders, nephew Akhilesh was dealing with the headache of running the administration without enjoying the perks of power.
The story goes that the CM tried to remedy the situation by conceiving big-ticket projects and putting them directly under the Expressway Industrial Development Authority, headed by a handpicked bureaucrat.
This alarmed Shivpal Yadav, who, as minister of the public works department, considered himself the single-window for all development projects. To the uncle, the CM's new ploy sounded like an intrusion in his fief.
Many experts believe the seeds of the Mahabharata in the Yadav clan were sown that day.
Prior to their ego tussles that began this year, uncle and nephew were considered close to each other. Old timers say a young Akhilesh used to spend a lot of time at Shivpal's house. And, when he got married, he stayed for a long time with wife Dimple at his uncle's residence.
But, the bonhomie came under severe strain because of the pulls and pressures of power. In a state like UP, in a family-owned organisation, the one who controls the purse-strings and project tenders lords over the party. Vested with the power to oblige workers, industrialists and contractors, Shivpal emerged as the man who had most of the controls under his thumb. The presence of a minister with super powers and a CM with just the administrative headache was bound to lead to a turf war.
Add to the mix the various power centres in Mulayam's parivar — a stepmother, a stepson and his ambitious wife, two uncles pulling Akhilesh in different directions — and the script for a succession war was inevitable.
All it needed was an agent provocateur. And that's the role Amar Singh — the man behind many family dramas, heartbreaks, breakups, darbar intrigues and the curious case of Amar, Anil and Anthony — seems to have played.
Now, the war in Yadav Parivar is at a point-of-no-reconciliation.
According to Indian mythology, it was prophesied by Gandhari that since nobody can kill the Yadavs, they would die fighting each other. So far, the feud in the Yadav clan is following the script.
Unless Mulayam Singh Yadav comes up with a magical formula to keep the party intact, the Samajwadis are headed for a split down the middle. Since loyalties are divided between father and son, uncle and nephew, brother and brother, party legislators will inevitably get divided between the two rival camps.
So, unless a miraculous rapprochement is engineered, a truce is called, the government will fall, if not in days, perhaps a few weeks. Elections that are due in February may take place slightly ahead of schedule, under a caretaker government or perhaps under Governor's rule.
A vertical split within the SP will lead to a comical situation. It may actually lead to a situation where a father and son would compete for votes in the same state, leaving their workers and leaders confused and demoralised. Unless voters see in Akhilesh a messiah of development and back him, the Samajwadi vote would split and lead to the party's downfall. Its minority voters could line up behind, a section of Yadavs may go to the BJP.
If electoral annihilation is guaranteed, why, you would think, is Akhilesh waging a war? The CM's followers argue he is working to a different plan, based on his track record of development and a clean image.
The CM is trying to jettison leaders with a tainted image, throw the yoke of his father's supremacy and branch out on his own. In the next stage, he may stitch an alliance with the Congress, join hands with Nitish Kumar, Ajit Singh and a few other regional parties to float a Mahagathbandhan to take on the BJP and the BSP.
Rahul Gandhi, Akhilesh Yadav, Nitish Kumar and Ajit Singh campaigning side-by-side in a state where minorities, Yadavs, Jats and Kurmis are in huge numbers may sound like a great idea in theory. But to put it in practise, Akhilesh will have to first get over his biggest adversaries: His father who has the political and organisational muscle. And an uncle who has deep pockets.
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