Pita, putra aur woh

The Samajwadi Party is a strange political animal that takes a morbid pleasure in making a laughing stock of itself again and again in full public view. What has been going on in this party in UP for the last few days has earned it no end of sound bytes in the TV news channels and no end of column centimetres in newspapers. An unending battle seemed to be going on between the party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav and his brother and State Party president Shivpal Singh Yadav on the one hand and son and chief minister Akhilesh Yadav and his uncle (a cousin of Mulayam) Ramgopal Yadav on the other. They seemed to be playing a see-saw game, with one side coming up at one moment and going down the next. The only thing was that the electorate of poll-bound Uttar Pradesh was not being amused by the antics of the ruling party. The last development has seen Akhilesh emerge as the undisputed leader of the party supplanting his father.

At one point Mulayam ‘expelled’ his chief minister son from the party. Immediately the BJP demanded that the SP Government be dismissed (because after his expulsion from the party Akhilesh had lost the right to continue as CM) and UP brought under President’s rule. In less than twenty-four hours, Akhilesh led his flock of loyal party legislators to Mulayam’s place where he proved beyond doubt that he commanded the majority. Spokesmen claiming to speak on his behalf told the media that if his expulsion was not taken back, Akhilesh would field all MLAs loyal to him in the coming elections as independents. The tables have since been turned: it is Mulayam who has been removed as party president and made a Maargdarshak (like BJP’s Advani). But the last has not been heard yet. What is clear is that it is advantage BJP in UP.

In the comic succession of events in Lucknow, what was intriguing was that from the very beginning of the crisis some people in the party were blaming an ‘outside factor’ for the brewing crisis, without identifying what that ‘outside factor’ was. A certain name was being whispered in party circles all the time as the villain of the piece – that of Amar Singh. He was supposed to be behind the father and son rift and the present crisis bedeviling the party.  But party spokesmen carefully avoided taking his name before the media. Paraphrasing the title of a popular Hindi cinema of the 1970s, could the recent political drama in Lucknow be called Pita Putra aur Woh? 

Wednesday, 4 January, 2017