The old guard in Samajwadi Party (SP) appears to have taken over the reigns from the much touted ‘young and dynamic’ Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav ahead of the crucial Assembly polls due next year. For over three years, Akhilesh was heralded for his leadership and as part of the next generation that would lead the party to greatness. However, all those hopes seems to have fallen flat.
In the run up to the assembly elections next year, Shivpal Yadav, Akhilesh’s uncle and senior minister in the SP government, released a list of 26 candidates of which the CM was unaware. Furthermore, the CM disapproved of some of the names in the list including Amanmani Tripathi who is being probed by the CBI in his wife’s murder case. Akhilesh’s loyalist Atul Pradhan who was awarded the ticket to contest from Sardhana by the CM himself was changed by Shivpal, much to the displeasure to the young Yadav.
Over the past month, the Yadavs have become one of the most talked about political families in the country, all for the wrong reasons. Dissent and divide in the party is visible and a tug of war for power and authority in the party’s decision making has polarised Akhilesh from his father Mulayam Singh and his uncles. The visible divide has intimidated their followers who slowly seem to be losing confidence in the cohesiveness of the SP if they choose to vote for them in the next elections. This has also put BSP and its chief Mayawati in a stronger position. The former chief minister leads her party as a tight unit that follow her unquestioningly.
The tension in the Yadav clan coincided with the reappearance of Amar Singh in the Yadav fold. Mulayam’s affection and trust for Amar Singh in contrast to the visible distrust Akhilesh places in the latter led to a host of issues in the party and the government. Mulayam Singh’s insistence that he is the decision-making authority in SP has left Akhilesh miffed who thought he was finally coming out of the shadow of his father.
Taking on the likes of Mulayam Singh is not a mean feat. The SP founder has served as UP chief minister thrice and has been elected to the Lok Sabha five times. He has also served as a Union Minister of Defence. After the tussle, Mulayam Singh took away the reigns of the party’s state unit from Akhilesh and handed it over to his brother. It is clear that Mulayam is intent on sending a signal to his son that he is the undisputed leader in SP and that undermining ‘netaji’s authority’ will only sideline him further in the party.