Thursday, January 19, 2017

Akhilesh battle with dad Mulayam signals shift in socialist politics

In 2012, when Akhilesh Yadav  declined to play a 'papa's boy' and repeatedly addressed his aging father as ''Netaji (our ultimate leader),'' little did any political pundit predict that  a seemingly amiable son will humble his father in a fierce political tussle -- snatching from former UP strongman, his party and the symbol bicycle.

Just as today -- post the Election Commission verdict, giving his faction the recognition of being the genuine Samajwadi Party has set the tone for key contests in UP -- many say they could see the changes coming in the party affairs as more than fighting his father Mulayam Singh Yadav-Akhilesh was more keen to reform SP from its traditional Hindi-heartland socialistic values.

In this context, says former Samajwadi MP Shailendra Kumar -- "behind a soft exterior, Akhilesh is a tough mettle  and in between 2009 and 2012 -- as the president of UP unit of Samajwadi -- he had implemented several key decisions". 
Brushing aside the senior Yadav's moves, Akhilesh had opposed induction of Western UP strongman and history-sheeter DP Yadav, forced the 'Netaji' (his father) to remove veteran Mohan Singh as the spokesman for backing DP Yadav's entry.
 In fact, as the UP unit president of the party, showing firmness during his battle for 2012, Akhilesh  gave unto himself the larger say in the running of the party, selecting candidates and also drawing the campaign graph
He also had forced the party – still drunk with old socialistic stance – to shed the past prejudices and led Samajwadi turn 'modern' and pledged English education and computerisation and announced distribution of laptops and computers in the 2012 election manifesto.
  Akhilesh camp says, with the look of a next door youth and quite an infectious smile, Akhilesh Yadav started representing a paradigm shift in North India’s politics, which for long rested on caste, religion and also violence.

  His best trump card thus and not without good reason -- and that distinguished him from his rival-uncle Shivpal Yadav -- has been humility -- but ear-on-ground approach.
  Perhaps this difference in style and substance distanced Lucknow's 'neo-Chhote Nawab' from his father at least in political realism and endeared himself to his other uncle and new find mentor Ram Gopal Yadav. Thus, party sources say while defeat in a legal battle before the Election Commission was an humiliation and embarrassment for Mulayam, the long-run family feud also has ensured emergence of a new crafty socialist in the form of Ram Gopal Yadav, in the corridors of power.
Samajwadi Party watchers consider Ram Gopal Yadav as a silent player, who sticks to his own script and seldom interacts with the media. "The Rajya Sabha MP (Ram Gopal) once readily played second fiddle to Mulayam's confidant Amar Singh, but he has been always firm about his own views and when time came, he teamed up with veteran socialists Mohan Singh and Rewati Raman Singh to oust Amar Singh," says a CPI leader.

 Meanwhile, those who know Samajwadi Party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav say in the changed scenario a hardcore political entity that he is, former UP Chief Minister and an ex-Defence Minister may still try to fight out.
 In the past, Mulayam has played a number of key political games, wrestling his position well. Mulayam's associate and a senior Janata Dal (U) leader pointed out: "In 1999, Mulayam stunned non-BJP forces when he virtually single-handedly stalled Sonia Gandhi's march to the PMO, when he categorically declined to support a Congress-led Government after Jayalalitha withdrew support to the Vajpayee Government". 

Again in 2002, he was instrumental in ensuring APJ Abdul Kalam's election as the President, when he was reported to have stuck a deal with the BJP.
  In 2008 again, Mulayam had chipped in to bail out Dr Manmohan Singh regime, when the Left parties had withdrawn support to UPA-I, over the Indo-US Nuclear deal.

SP sources said refusing to be dubbed as a simple beneficiary of 'dynastic hierarchy' as his father’s son – Akhilesh Yadav -- who had done Masters in Environmental Engineering from Sydney University, had brought in a new rhythm in the socialistic polity.
  In fact, they say unlike several other socialist politicians UP and Bihar, Akhilesh tried to stay away from segmented appeal of the likes of Ram Vilas Paswan or the bravado of Lalu Prasad Yadav.
  In 2012, even a political rival Arun Jaitley of BJP has on record appreciated Akhilesh's sober and  sensible approach, in contrast to Congress chief campaigner Rahul Gandhi’s symbolic gestures of tearing off the manifesto of rival parties.
  Now, SP Spokesperson Juhi Singh says the new changes would definitely bring in political dividends to Akhilesh and the proposed Samajwadi-Congress alliance.

The rival BJP may not agree on the face value, but a sitting BJP MP from the state says, "Akhilesh has probably tried to counter anti-incumbency factor. The final outcome is yet to be seen".  But, the BJP leader also sums up the paradox, saying Mulayam Singh may be upset politically -- but none should be happier than a proud father, as he sees his prodigy bring in new shift in the politics of the cow-belt, ultimately making a significant bit to try checkmate the BJP's return to power in the country's most populous state.


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