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Posted at: Jan 8, 2017, 12:41 AM; last updated: Jan 8, 2017, 1:39 AM (IST)

Mulayam’s miscalculations

Akhilesh Yadav

  • When he assumed power in 2012, he had the distinction of being the youngest CM (aged 38 years).
  • He ushered in an era of technology and invested hugely in bridging the digital divide and infrastructuredevelopment.
  • Despite opposition, he managed to create a world record of sorts by distributing 18 lakh laptops among school-leaving children of the state across caste, religion and region.
  • Popular among the youth. Even hisopponents have nothing negative to say against him.
  • Keen to return to power on development agenda, he has emerged stronger during the family feud.
A few days before the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, Mulayam Singh Yadav stoked a lingering controversy following conviction of three boys in a rape case in Mumbai: “Ladke, ladke hain. Galti ho jati hai (boys are boys. Mistakes happen sometimes),” he had told an election rally in Moradabad. Many in the Samajwadi Party privately said the party patriarch in his late seventies had gone senile. Fast forward to 2016-17: Mulayam’s party suffered its worst-ever crisis within weeks after celebrating its 25th anniversary on Nov 5, 2016. 

On Jan 30 last, when he expelled his son-Chief Minister Akhilesh and Ram Gopal Yadav (a relative) from the party, Mulayam said: “Ram Gopal is misguiding Akhilesh and is destroying his future. Akhilesh does not understand this…” For Mulayam loyalists within the SP, Akhilesh’s ‘mistake’ is more than just a ‘galti’. “It is a blatant breach of trust.”

For a man essentially reared by rude rural realities and crude politics, the present Samajwadi shenanigans are nothing but plain chicanery, something Mulayam had never bargained for ever since he earned his spurs in Safai village of Etawah district. His detractors may condemn him for anything, but Netaji — as he is popularly known in his party — is very down-to-earth. Maybe naïve too. 

He has liked to trust people. That’s why Amar Singh, his close aide and a notorious insider of many political intrigues, persuaded him to accept Sadhna Gupta as his second wife in 2007 after his first wife died in 2003. Mulayam and Sadhna knew each other since the early nineties and the latter had a son, Prateek. 

Erstwhile socialists can certify the trustworthiness of Mulayam since the days of Ram Manohar Lohia and Raj Narayan — the heady days of the late sixties when Mulayam entered the UP Assembly in 1967. The Netaji trusted all — his brother Shivpal Yadav, his son, his second wife and his party’s main brain, Ram Gopal. Today, the entire burden of trust has become so cumbersome for Mulayam that he is unable to see where his faith lies: whether in the ideology of his party or in the son(s), wife, brother(s) or cousin. This crisis of faith reached its climax when he ‘proclaimed’ Akhilesh as the Chief Minister in 2012 and declared that his son would be the best CM. Then his bravado fluctuated: first he ran his party MLAs and bureaucrats down for ‘lethargy’ and then, got extremely fidgety over whether to accept or reject son Akhilesh. 

Things came to a head on Jan 1, 2017. The party’s Emergency National Convention unanimously dethroned the founder of the party, Mulayam Singh Yadav. This was even more ironical as the venue for the convention was the same where the erstwhile Janata Parivar had gathered for the grand silver jubilee function of the party in Lucknow’s sprawling Janeshwar Mishra Park. Netaji’s estranged cousin Ram Gopal Yadav also announced dislodging Mulayam’s ‘Laxman-like’ brother Shivpal Yadav from the post of state president. The patriarch’s old time friend and confidante, Amar Singh, too, was shown the door.

Much water has flowed down the Gomti and Yamuna since January 1. Dozens of hours have been spent behind closed door s at various venues across cities to bring about a truce. A vertical split in the party around elections is nothing short of a political suicide. Both factions have had more than one round of meeting with Election Commission officials claiming to be the ‘real’ SP and staking their claim to the party symbol ‘cycle’.

Whichever way the events unfold, one thing seems beyond doubt: The Samajwadi Party that rode to power in 2012 winning 224 of the 403 Assembly seats, increasing its tally to 229 through by-polls is dead and gone forever. The party was one of the several offshoots that came into its own when the Janata Dal fragmented into several regional entities in 1992. 

Working on the tested Muslim-Yadav formula, the SP did not hesitate to assume power in 2003 by dislodging Mayawati by breaking her BSP with the help of the BJP.

In all likelihood the benefit of a possible split in the SP would be reaped by the BSP as a substantive Muslim vote dreading the BJP may shift to it. Sensing the Muslim’s dilemma, Mayawati has allotted 97 seats to Muslims, the largest allotted by her party ever.

Mulayam Singh Yadav

  • Dhartiputra (son of the soil) ‘Netaji’ Mulayam Singh Yadav is the Gama Pehalwan of Indian politics who has had a ringside view of the dangal of Indian political arena for more than three decades.
  • Foxed by the intricate daav-pench of none else than his own son Akhilesh Yadav.
  • Would go down in history for his 1999 decision of not backing Sonia Gandhi for the PM’s post; sudden U-turn in 2002 on supporting NDA presidential candidate APJ Abdul Kalam; volte-face on the nuclear deal; and walking out of a Mahagatbandhan in Bihar last year.
Sadhna Gupta

    • Not much is known about her early life till she formally married Mulayam Singh Yadav in 2007 after Mulayam’s first wife Malti Devi died n 2003.
    • Reportedly came in contact with Mulayam in the early 90s as a young divorcee. It was Amar Singh who had forced Mulayam to publicly accept the relationship. Has political ambitions.
    • Mulayam’s second son Prateek born in 1988 is the biological son of Sadhna’s first husband but has been adopted by Mulayam. 
Shivpal 

  • Known for his Laxman-like devotion to Netaji, the youngest Yadav brother has fulfilled many of Mulayam’ s fatherly duties in the early years. 
  • Known for his rough ways, Shivpal has good organizational skills.
  • Reportedly kept in touch with Amar Singh even after he had been thrown out of the party
Ram Gopal Yadav

    • A cousin of Netaji. Started his career as an associate professor in both Political Science and Physics at the Post Graduate level at an Etawah college.
    • Said to have drafted SP’s constitution and has remained an RS member.
    • Finds himself in a spot after a CBI probe into the alleged irregularities involving Noida chief engineer Yadav Singh. The CBI allegedly found the name of his son and daughter-in-law as directors in one of Yadav Singh’s companies.
With inputs from Prashant Saxena

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