Mulayam Singh Yadav today openly criticized his son Akhilesh Yadav's decision to tie up with rival Mayawati's Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP). A week ago, the Samajwadi patriarch had baffled his party and others in the opposition by telling Prime Minister Narendra Modi in parliament that he hoped he would return to power. His latest comments bring more embarrassment for Akhilesh Yadav.
"Who is finishing the party? Our own party people. It was such a strong party. We formed government on our own three times. All three times I was chief minister, I was also defense minister," Mulayam Singh, 79, said, questioning why his son ceded "half" the seats in Uttar Pradesh to Mayawati's party.
Last month, Akhilesh Yadav and Mayawati announced their alliance in a joint press conference and said they would contest 38 seats each in 80-seat UP, leaving the two Gandhi family seats of Raebareli and Amethi and two more for smaller parties.
In the list of seats released on Thursday, Samajwadi was assigned one less - 37 - than the BSP.
"Now, tell me what is the basis for giving away half the seats. Now we have only half the seats left. Our party was stronger," Mulayam Singh said.
He also urged those aspiring to contest the parliamentary polls to come to him if they wanted any seat. "Akhilesh will give the ticket, but I can change it," he said, addressing party workers at the Samajwadi headquarters in Lucknow.
Mulayam Singh has faded out of active politics over the past two years amid a feud with his son, who took over control of the party founded by his father months before the UP election in 2017. But while his younger brother Shivpal walked out of the Samajwadi Party and set up his own outfit, Mulayam Singh stayed put.
He made headlines last Wednesday when, in his speech on the last day of the 16th Lok Sabha before the elections, he praised PM Modi and said: "I hope all members win and return, and you will become the prime minister again."