There are chaotic scenes outside the Samajwadi Party headquarters at Vikramaditya Marg in Lucknow. The feud between party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav and his son, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav is now out in the open. On Sunday, Akhilesh expelled his father’s brother Shivpal Yadav as a minister, for the second time in the month. Mulayam retaliated, and sacked his own cousin Ram Gopal Yadav, a known confidante of Akhilesh claiming that he was close to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
Taking charge of the party in his own hands, Mulayam ordered all MPs, MLAs, MLCs and senior leaders to come together on Monday with an aim to find solutions to the political crisis in the SP.
Starting from the 2012 party campaign, Akhilesh has always portrayed himself as a leader with a clean image, having a development agenda and not as a follower of caste-based politics. His father, on the other hand, has centered the party on caste lines weaving in around the Yadavs and the Muslims.
Over the years, SP has had an image of a ‘party of goons’. It is said that the criminals have a free hand when the party is in power. When Akhilesh campaigned for the 2012 elections, he made sure he does away with this ‘image’. He had then firmly stopped mafia don DP Yadav from entering the party. During the cabinet expansion in September too, Akhilesh removed corruption-tainted Gayatri Prasad Prajapati as Mines Minister. But as a slap on his face, Mulayam ordered him to be reinstated, raising questions over the role of the CM, even while taking his own cabinet decisions.
Recently too, there was much hue and cry over Shivpal’s attempt to merge Qaumi Ekta Dal with the SP. While Akhilesh felt that it would be harmful for the party ahead of the 2017 assembly elections, the political rift grew. Time and again, Akhilesh’s attempts to break the nexus of the party with criminals has invoked a retaliation from the old guard.
The difference of opinions between generations is hampering the stability of the party. While Mulayam Singh Yadav established the party, there is now a tussle for control between the father and son.
Akhilesh has on several occasions stated that Mulayam’s confidante Amar Singh is not acceptable in the party and has even called him to be the main reason for the unrest. Singh, who had been thrown out of the party in 2012, is now back and the effects are not positive. Some say he is helping BJP win the state by creating a rift in the party. Akhilesh too has said that Singh has been trying to remove the CM from the party.
In an over two-decade-old history of the party, it is for the first time that anyone is challenging Netaji’s authority. But a whip from the party chief is a clear signal that Akhilesh will have to concede to the equation that he cannot take the calls in the party.
The tussle between the old and the new guard in an election year certainly will do no good. The mudslinging within the party to gain control denotes there is slight or no democracy within the set-up. While the campaign of the BJP, Congress and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) is in full swing, the SP hasn’t even started its poll journey and is still fighting the internal arguments.
Uttar Pradesh is a highly polarised state. It is difficult to set the caste equations aside while fighting an electoral battle in the state. A new song or just a few freebies are unlikely to give an upper hand to any party during the polls. However high the ambitions, it seems that the young, educated and development-oriented leader, is now playing a victim at the hands of caste politics and corrupt agendas.