Samajwadi Party (SP) supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav’s latest announcement that the SP will not announce a chief ministerial candidate till the election results comes as a another blow to his relationship with son and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav. The former CM and serving Lok Sabha MP Mulayam seemingly wants to wean the focus away from the rift in his family. Indeed, Mulayam commands supreme authority over the party’s decisions, but his announcement comes less as a convincing poll strategy and as more of a punitive action. Also, by not naming a candidate, the ensuing blame for possibly losing the election falls on the party’s candidates and not on the Yadav family. The father-son duo would acknowledge that reconciliation seems difficult but is vital as without it their poll prospects are being hit massively.
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Mulayam commented that the party’s parliamentary board and elected MLAs will meet and decide the next CM if they secure a majority in the upcoming 2017 state assembly election. This is a highly contrasting move from Mulayam’s usual position. The party chief has, on several occasions, including recently when the rift emerged between Akhilesh, Shivpal and Mulayam, reiterated that he is the deciding authority in the party. To publicly say that the CM candidate will be decided by MLAs and a party parliamentary board looks to be only evasive tactics.
First, not presenting Akhilesh as the CM candidate takes the chance away from Akhilesh to recover ground in the party till the elections are done and dusted, Mulayam would want to see how the power equation pans out in his family and the SP. Mulayam would look for an opportunity to sideline any rebels to again raise his party from the ashes. A coalition with the BJP or Congress looks highly unlikely as Mulayam would understand the strong opposition posed by both his opponents.
The Samajwadi Party remains mired in controversy amid such comments coupled with allegations that the BJP and BSP may look to form an alliance for the next government. The SP is looking to desperately salvage the divided Muslim voters leaning away from the SP. The run up to the UP election has also witnessed strong response to the Congress and the BJP in the state and all are keen to see how the poll stars align.
In recent weeks, Akhilesh’s relationship with Mulayam and Shivpal has turned from sour to bitter. The CM was ousted from his position as state party president when he dismissed two ministers close to Shivpal and Mulayam. A rift emerged soon after. On several occasions Akhilesh refused to attend events where his father would be present.
On Wednesday, he walked out of a memorial event before his father and uncle arrived and on rumours that he might lead his campaign on his own, Mulayam lashed out saying that he will decide who to place where. The leader’s recent comments saying that in 2012, the votes were sought in my (Mulayam’s) name clearly show the extent to which Akhilesh has strayed away from the SP chief.