Akhilesh Yadav: This modern-day Arjuna needs no Krishna

Akhilesh Yadav is no villain, he is the hero of the story and the icon for a pragmatic new generation that has no patience to be bringing up father as he makes one bad decision after another.

Written by Anuradha Varma | Published:February 9, 2017 8:06 am
Samajwadi Party (SP) president and chief minister of the northern state of Uttar Pradesh Akhilesh Yadav addresses an election campaign rally in Sultanpur, India January 24, 2017. REUTERS/Pawan Kumar Samajwadi Party (SP) president and chief minister of the northern state of Uttar Pradesh Akhilesh Yadav addresses an election campaign rally in Sultanpur. Reuters

There’s a stepmother, dubbed ‘Kaikeyi’ by Hindi news channels, a reigning patriarch unravelling fast, and more than one claimant for a political legacy, but that’s where the similarity ends with the epic Ramayana. Akhilesh Yadav, our very modern day protagonist, is no martyr and seems to view sacrifice not as a badge of honour, but as political suicide.

The questions he takes on pre-election, seated CEO-like in his minimalist office, are not related to betrayal, but on revamping his party, giving it a youthful facelift and convincing the old guard about the merits of laptops. Will his father Mulayam Singh Yadav come around and openly support his campaign? The son hopes so, despite claims to the contrary, since he has changed his mind before and may do it again. You know how old men are.

And boy, does the older generation refuse to let go! In a soap opera-style drama, as Akhilesh successfully scripted a new story with himself as hero, he showed up his parent to be a blubbering mess. And by removing the party from harm’s way, he has supposedly led it from darkness to light. When Aurangzeb retired Shah Jahan away from kingship, the act overshadowed all his other not so admirable acts, even though it is said to have been prompted by the elder Mughal’s wasteful expenditures on the Taj Mahal and other planned lofty monuments. In the Ramayana, When Ravana took down Kuber, his step-brother, in a bloodless coup to reclaim Lanka for his maternal relatives, as his hapless father watched, it was a very “asura” or demonic thing to do…no surprises there! But, Akhilesh Yadav is no villain, he is the hero of the story and the icon for a pragmatic new generation that has no patience to be bringing up father as he makes one bad decision after another.

In his personal space, Akhilesh asserts that he continues to respect his father, but when it comes to the party, the message that goes out is that he has to think of the greater good. Which, in other words, means that Daddy needs to retire. Not retire like Ratan Tata, who watched from the sidelines as protégé Cyrus Mistry tried to do things his way, and took back the reins when he saw the script changing. But just back the hell off and let things follow a new order.

Whispers still continue about the power tussle decades ago between late prime minister Indira Gandhi and her son Sanjay Gandhi, but fate and a plane crash cut short that trajectory. But, Akhilesh has proved that if pushed against the wall, Gen Next can fight back and win. This modern-day Arjuna needs no Krishna to read him the Gita, for he knows how to separate the head and the heart.

As a friend joked, maybe that’s why one should not have kids! True, for who would not prefer a newer, improved version over an older model? But, on a more serious note, don’t reveal the chinks in your armour, even if it’s to your child or parent! You never know when you could be out-manouevered.

The writer is an editorial consultant and co-founder of The Goodwill Project. She tweets @anuvee) Views expressed are personal.

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