Indian politics: Rising son Akhilesh Yadav UP CM outsmarts his own promoter-father Mulayam Yadav

Whether it is good or shame for Indian prestige, in Indian politics sons and daughters and even other close relatives keep rising to lead the parties and make wealth as people come to politics only to make money by all possible means wither as ruling parties or working as opposition parties.

The stage is set for the Uttar Pradesh elections which will be held in seven phases between February and March this. With 403 assembly seats, the UP elections are the largest and therefore the most crucial. However, for now, all focus has been on political storm within the Samajwadi Party where trouble has been brewing from September ever since the feud between uncle Shivpal Yadav and Chief Minister Akhilesh grew heated.

The eve of the New Year saw the re-instatement of Akhilesh Yadav, who was expelled the day before from the party and a resolve to present a united front ahead of the polls. However, the very next day, following the emergency national delegation convention of the party, Mulayam Singh Yadav was voted out as president and replaced by his son and current Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav. Soon after, Amar Sigh, Mulayam Singh Yadav and his brother Shivpal Yadav submitted a memorandum to the Election Commission claiming that the meeting was illegal and that the election symbol, the cycle, must remain with their faction. However, the EC is unlikely to resolve the issue regarding the symbol before the election. Efforts to resolve issues have reportedly failed yesterday despite meetings between father and son.

UP polls are important for two major reasons; BJP needs majority in the Upper House of parliament depends on the poll outcomes in 5 states gong to poll soon and, the next presidential poll is in about six months where BJP cannot field its candidate if it fails to win enough seats in these states.

The BJP lost the Bihar elections of 2015 after winning it in 2014, by having no more than 4% of its voters switch loyalties. The BJP would need a performance nearly four times worse than Bihar to lose UP, given its magnitude of victory in 2014. If any two of the opposition parties get together, the BJP would still have to lose more than 10% of its voters to lose the UP election.

Family politics

Indian state of Uttar Pradesh (UP) is going to polls soon and each party in the state is making an all-out effort to win this important state where Hindutva forces had destroyed the historic Babri Mosque in 1992 and no decision has been taken so far by the federal government or Supreme Court to rebuild the Mosque at the post as promised by the Indian government soon after the Mosque was pulled b down by criminal elements with state backing. The then ruling Congress government had accused the BJP led Hindutva parties and criminal elements (mostly from Mumbai, India’s financial capital) that demolished the Mosque along with Indian Constitution that guarantees and protects the minority rights and their religious places.

Alas, today no politician, true to their pseudo secular credentials, even mention about the historic Babri mosque, let alone seeking justice for Indian Muslims who own the grand Babri Mosque. All parties want Muslim vote banks for wining polls.

Politics in Uttar Pradesh, India has presented a new dimension to the kith and kin takeover of reins of power. The ruling Samajwadi Party (SP) of Mulayam Singh Yadav who meticulously promoted his dear son Akhilesh, is n the receiving end as Akhilesh has removed him from the post of president of SP. is the talk of Indian political circles and debate houses as his son and UP CM Akhilesh Yadav, brought in to politics by Mulayam to continue his political legacy in the stet and later in national politics, is seen outsmarting his own father.

UP chief minister Akhilesh Yadav 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 and founder of SP, Mulayam Singh Yadav who has been removed from the top post. The convention was convened by CM Akhilesh by keeping the top leader Mulayam out. 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.

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

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 strategizing, 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.

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 resistance. 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.

It was expected that father Mulayam Singh Yadav might expel his son from the party. But he tried to drill sense into the head of the rebellious chief minister.

Some people say Akhilesh might proceed further on the road to rebellion. In this scenario, he would formally divide the party, just like Indira Gandhi did in the late 60s. According to well-placed sources in the party, Akhilesh does enjoy the support of a larger number of party MLAs. Sooner rather than later, Akhilesh's men would announce the formation of a new party with a new name and a different symbol — maybe, say, a motorcycle or a car. And this entity would rush ahead to strike alliances with Congress and other like-minded parties and even Left parties. The strife torn party wouldn't suffer a formal split. Instead, Akhilesh wants to decide the candidates for the assembly poll, further causing confusion among those who form the core of the pro-SP vote bank — Yadavas and Muslims. In this case, SP's adversaries — BJP and BSP — would stand to gain.

Mulayam might give leeway to the rebellious son, letting him emerge the ultimate winner — either by letting him rein in the disparate forces within the party if he can. Don't be surprised if you get to know that this possibility is already doing rounds in the corridors of power. Perhaps those who are discussing this theory know Mulayam more than we do.

In UP, there was a virtual free for all. Mulayam-Akhilesh was not the last word. There were two powerful brothers in form of Ram Gopal and Shivpal. When one chose Mulayam and the other Akhilesh, it was clear that there would be hectic lobbying and politicking and the party would be torn apart.

BJP gains

The chief minister’s move means that all chances of the SP and the Congress getting together to fight the BJP jointly have evaporated into thin air. And by implication, it also means that Muslim vote bank would now be divided among three claimants – SP, BSP and Congress.

Even through the foggy weather and murky politics that engulfs the battleground Uttar Pradesh, one can broadly make out contours of the big picture: The BJP is catching up to challenge the Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP). There are several reasons why this is happening despite the fact that people, who continue to be at the receiving end of the cash crunch, particularly in rural areas, are getting increasingly disenchanted with demonetisation: First, the anti-BJP forces are in a state of disarray. Second, the Muslim vote-bank is getting divided. And third, the otherwise young, energetic poster-boy of the SP – Akhilesh Yadav – appears to be losing steam mid-way, thanks to opposing cross-currents within his family. Besides these possibilities for a moment and look at the big picture that has already emerged in the aftermath of the intra-party bloodbath in the all too crucial Uttar Pradesh. The BJP has come up from behind to be a serious contender for power for the first time since 1991. See what Mohammad Azam Khan says now: "We seem to be presenting power to the BJP on a platter." Indeed, even Azam Khan can speak out the truth for once.

Remember, the scars of the war within the Samajwadi Party were split open once again earlier this week when Akhilesh Yadav took his list of poll candidates for all the 403 constituencies to party supremo Mulayam Singh for his approval. The move infuriated state party president, Shivpal Singh Yadav, who gave enough hints that he might retaliate with disciplinary action. Mulayam, on his part, stayed aloof. He is still maintaining silence on the issue.

Demonetization drive has cut into the fortunes of BJP in the UP poll. It's significant that a number of top guns of the RSS and BJP including Duttatreya Hosabale, Krishnagopal, Ramlal, Shiv Prakash, Keshav Prasad Maurya and Sunil Bansal who attended an important meeting criticized Modi’s demonetization . Nobody had minced words while giving feedback on demonetisation and how it affected people in rural areas: “The initial happiness that was visible among middle classes is dissipating fast. Now, people are getting critical as banks and ATMs report shortage of cash. If things are allowed to prolong like this, BJP’s poll prospects would be impacted adversely.” But much water has flown down the Gomti River (in UP) since this meeting was held.

While the SP has yet to put forward a united show in right earnest, the BSP is seen being pulled down by a new controversy over its cash deposits in banks. Soon after alleged reports of irregularities in BSP’s bank accounts surfaced, Mayawati called a press conference to clarify her position. She said: “All this money belongs to the party. And all the deposits were made following due procedures. It’s the BJP that is misusing official machinery to malign the BSP.” With both the SP and the BSP mired in a mess, it is hardly surprising if stars are beginning to smile on BJP – not because the cash situation has eased but because the opposing parties look less promising.

Indeed, in politics like in chess, you win because your opponent loses. In other words, you cannot win unless your opponent errs, falters or gets careless.

Act of rebellion

Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav clearly thinks his own existence is an act of rebellion, given the trying circumstances. He has chosen to move ahead freely on an uncharted course in the theatre of the absurd. He has broken all shackles. He is bent upon defying all party norms and all rules of political business. And what's even more important is that he has, in the process, raised the banner of revolt against his father, who painstakingly built the Samajwadi Party, brick by brick, in the last 25 years.

But young Akhilesh doesn't seem to realize there is a difference between rebellion against father or party and revolution: If you fail in your fight against the established authority, you'll be labeled a rebel and targeted; and should you succeed against all odds, people will hail you a revolutionary to lead the party. Therefore, it is success — and not the cause — that is important. History is replete with burning examples: Indira Gandhi was hailed as a hero after the all-too-famous struggle for power between 'Indicate and Syndicate' and she successfully elevated the powerful rival. But Leon Trotsky, who failed in his fight against Joseph Stalin despite the loftiness of his cause, was exiled from the Soviet Union and that was end of him and protest against the regime in any form. Ignominy, disgrace and humiliation await those who fail.

Now that the UP chief minister knows too well and has made public a parallel list of his own contestants for the upcoming Assembly elections against the party's "official" list.
Understandably, Mayawati who had thus far been marching ahead of others on the Muslim front, especially in Western Uttar Pradesh, looks at the new development with suspicion. Holding a different theory altogether, she had said last week: “An alliance between Congress and SP can take place only if the BJP approves it... It’s being stated that the BJP is exerting pressure on SP chief and his family through Enforcement Directorate, Income Tax department and CBI to join hands with the Congress to divide Muslim votes and stop BSP from coming to power, otherwise, why should Akhilesh Yadav be so keen on a tie-up with a party which has been put on oxygen in the state?”

Mayawati’s statement makes it clear that a bigger chunk of the Muslim vote bank, owing to BJP’s presence, would go to the SP-Congress alliance, should it materialize out of thin air. Now, one can understand why the BJP looks more confident than ever before. Hardly ten days ago was the saffron camp seen struggling against the current in the face of widespread criticism over demonetisation? At a crucial meeting of different offshoots of the Sangh Parivar in Lucknow on 16 December, the RSS affiliates had told the BJP to "raise the cash flow to UP fast or, else, delay the polls."

Many opinion polls show BJP in the lead with the BSP emerging as the second favourite to win the elections. The First Post quotes the results of the India Today poll which shows the BJP winning 170-183 seats and the Congress losing big. Having Sheila Dikshit as the chief ministerial candidate seem to have failed to create any buzz for the party, with just one percent of those surveyed approving the choice of Dikshit as the next chief minister. The party seems to have failed to create any impression in the public with its chances of winning just eight-12 seats in the upcoming election.

If the BJP wins, it will once again be due to the PM’s popularity; if Mayawati wins, it will be because of the nostalgia for her ‘strong law and order’; and if Akhilesh wins, it will be an endorsement of his focus on infrastructure and welfare, and rebellion against the old patronage networks.

Will the young Chief Minister continue to retain power, or will the BJP or Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party be the victors, there is a lot riding on the result.

Challenge

Meanwhile, Samajwadi patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav reached the Election Commission of India office in New Delhi in a bid to claim the 'cycle' symbol. He was accompanied by his cousin Shivpal Yadav, Rajya Sabha MP Amar Singh and actress-turned politician Jaya Prada. A day after being dethroned as the Samajwadi Party national president by his warring son and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, Mulayam Singh insisted the party belonged to him and declared the action against him unconstitutional. "Samajwadi Party's election symbol is my signature," he said in Lucknow.

The move comes after the party is effectively broken into two opposing factions: One led by Mulayam and his cousin Shivpal, and another by Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav. The Akhilesh camp, on their part, claimed support of the majority of the SP cadres as well as the MLAs. Akhilesh camp member and former general secretary of the party Ram Gopal Yadav will meet Election Commission officials.

While son Yadav is on his way upward while his father Yadav, strangely enough, is facing a dreadful situation of exit from his own party and politics.

Bulks of party workers and leaders, including MLAs and MPs are behind the CM Yadav and many of them even say it is time Mulayam considered retirement p form politics. However, people in general see a drama in the Yadav house, keeping in view the forthcoming assembly elections to UP assembly.

There is a view among some people that Mulayam is eager to push his son to national politics and if he retains power in UP, he could effectively contain the BJP and Modi.

Whether or not Akhilesh would emerge the winner in UP, remains to be seen.

Observation

Son Akhilesh and father Mulayam - two blood-related leaders might make it up in due course if we consider how Indian politics is being conducted.
One thing is crystal clear even in the heat and dust raised by the day's tumultuous developments: Mulayam, the main man, stands isolated by boyish son. 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.

Meanwhile, a confident son Akhilesh Yadav flexed his muscle to prove he has the support of over 200 MLAs in his father’s Samajwadi Party, out of the party's total strength of 229. Aggressive supporters of the Uttar Pradesh chief minister thronged the Vikramaditya Marg in Lucknow to let the world know the boy has become the strong man and are capable of taking on the combined might of father Mulayam Singh Yadav and uncle Shivpal. It was always known that the Mulayam-Shivpal had the muscle, while beta Akhilesh had the image. But in politics, actual power comes from the support of party workers and people at large.

So while many thought the upcoming Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh would see a split SP, with father and son fighting against each other, making the state a five-cornered toss-up, it appears like it's the son who would take the cake (whatever be the numbers and voteshare), leaving just crumbs for the father-uncle combine.

For the moment, Akhilesh is seen to be racing against time preparing a fresh list of party candidates for the upcoming UP 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 demonetization. Second, Mulayam is now in no position to pose a hindrance- after his own son’s future is under threat. 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.

It’s election time. For an answer as to what is next. Let’s wait till we get to see the people's verdict in the election. SP leaders know too well that father has a soft corner for his rising son. The old, wily, all-weather politician that he is, Mulayam still retains his powers and, maybe, an ace up his sleeve. But he is so unpredictable; you just can't read his mind. You never know, the son might ultimately see reason and listen to the father, and the two might have a far-fetched compromise formula. It will be uncle Shivpal Yadav who becomes the biggest loser in such a situation.

Latest news reveals that Congress is trying for an alliance with SP of both factions in the UP loll to defeat both BJP and BSP.

As far as poll perspectives are concerned, the ruling SP still has the advantage and unless the BSP plays its card wise, Akhilesh could retain power- with or without Congress support.

As the UP elections have been announced, BJP, as usual, has begun targeting Babri Mosque, Uniform Civil Code, etc in order to get the undecided Hindu votes.

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