Feud in Yadav family Is it eating into SP votes?
The feud in Yadav family is all too evident and it is not conducive for SP’s election prospects. In fact, the ongoing tug of war within the ruling Samajwadi Party (SP) is a huge challenge for party national president Mulayam Singh Yadav who wants both the state government and the party organization to work in tandem to ensure a second consecutive term for his son chief minister Akhilesh Yadav. This feud is a red signal for the party’s electoral campaign and confirms the sliding glory of the party and its electoral competence to win. It is for Mulayam Singh to stop the family tussle otherwise SP will have to eat the crow with debacle in the upcoming UP elections. To meet this objective, Mulayam wants his younger brother Shivpal Singh Yadav and Akhilesh to function like his ‘two arms’. However, after a series of changes, which saw Akhilesh sack the chief secretary, Mulayam Singh replace Akhilesh with Shivpal as UP party chief and Akhilesh strip Shivpal of his key ministerial responsibilities, Mulayam’s task got that much more difficult.
As the incumbent CM, Akhilesh will remain the face of the party for the 2017 Assembly polls. And, if the SP retains power in 2017, Akhilesh will be the chief minister. Sources say that Shivpal played a major role in the return of senior leader Amar Singh to the party. He is also in touch with another senior leader and ex-union minister, Beni Prasad Verma who rejoined the party a few weeks ago. Before the 2014 Lok Sabha elections too, Mulayam had picked Shivpal to manage the party’s affairs. It is noteworthy that highlighting the significance of Shivpal, Mulayam had said last month that the party will split into several factions and many workers will go with Shivpal if he leaves. He had suggested that there was a conspiracy against Shivpal from within the party after Shivpal had alleged corruption within the ruling establishment and had threatened to resign.
In this perspective, Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav brokered a fragile peace accord among feuding family members, as part of which his son and Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav agreed to restore the ministries divested from his uncle Shivpal while insisting that Rajya Sabha member Amar Singh be shown the door. As part of the truce, Akhilesh also demanded that he be allowed the upper hand in ticket distribution in the run-up to the state polls. Mulayam Singh met Akhilesh and Shivpal separately and then all of them sat together later on. It was agreed among them that Gayatri Prasad Prajapati, who was sacked by Akhilesh as mining minister, would also be brought back as minister, though in a different but fairly important department.
It is worth mentioning here that Akhilesh and Shivpal reiterated their faith in the party chief and stressed that issues have been sorted out, but later on did not refrain from taking pot-shots at each other, which could lay fresh ground for another round of friction in the days to come. However, there seemed to be a sharp division over the role of Amar Singh, with Akhilesh Yadav seeing the Rajya Sabha member as the villain of the latest crisis while his uncle Shivpal defended Singh strongly. Without naming anyone, Shivpal said he had seen several chief ministers in his 40-year-old political career and that ego should not come into play when one occupies high office. “One must know that Netaji (Mulayam Singh) is the national president of SP but also my father. I will not disappoint him ever. But any outsider, if he comes in between us, will not be allowed to stay, that is for sure,” Akhilesh said at an event. Even while he was saying this, Mulayam Singh at the party office virtually announced the return of Prajapati, seen as a camp follower of Mulayam Singh, to the cabinet.
Against this backdrop, in a decision that may be seen as yet another snub to son Akhilesh Yadav, Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav appointed Amar Singh as the national general secretary of the party, almost six years after he was removed from the same post as well as the party. “You have been appointed general secretary of Samajwadi Party. I hope in the coming days you will strengthen the party in Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections,” Mulayam said in a handwritten letter to Amar. The brief letter in Hindi, signed by Mulayam on his Lok Sabha letterhead, was sent to media from state SP chief Shivpal Yadav’s official e-mail address.
Once the public face of the party, Amar was seen as Mulayam’s closest aide when he had the ear of “Netaji”. However, he along with his close associate Jaya Prada was expelled from the Samajwadi Party in February, 2010. Subsequently, Amar had floated his own political party, Rashtriya Lok Manch in 2011. He fielded a large number of candidates in 2012 assembly polls but none won. Now the surprise move and the way it was conveyed is a signal that the SP patriarch is taking control of the party.
In another blow to the young chief minister, the party decided Mulayam, and not Akhilesh, would kick off SP’s campaign for the Uttar Pradesh election. Mulayam called a meeting recently to plan the party’s October 8 rally in Azamgarh, Mulayam’s Lok Sabha constituency. The rally is the first in a series of meetings to launch the party’s campaign. The rally would showcase Mulayam as the “party”, Shivpal as the man in control of the organisation in the state and Akhilesh as the chief ministerial face, said an MLA who attended the meeting.
The political fight emerging in Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav’s family could potentially jolt the prospects of the ruling party in the assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh next year. It could work to the advantage of either of its two rivals, the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The election is emerging as a tight three-cornered contest, with opinion polls forecasting a hung assembly. If the rift within team SP is not resolved, it could give its rivals the decisive advantage.
(Uday India Bureau)