Akhilesh Has Outsmarted Father Mulayam

Published: December 30, 2016 22:29 IST
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"Tipu Bhaiya agey badoh, hum tumharey saath, Amar Singh saanp hai" [Tipu (Akhilesh) we are with you, Amar Singh is a snake]: these slogans rent the chilly, foggy Lucknow night as Samajwadi chief Mulayam Singh Yadav expelled UP Chief Minister and son Akhilesh as also his cousin Ram Gopal Yadav from the Samajwadi Party for six years. "Teflon Tipu'' has finally emerged as a man in full in politics.

The slogans seemed to prove the old political adage about the diamond ring and Abu-Sandeep wearing Amar Singh: where ever he goes, families are torn asunder. And the restive Samajwadi cadre seeing the treatment meted out to the popular and affable Chief Minister was angry. They have taken to calling Singh "Kans mama'' after the diabolical Mahabharata uncle and in the frantic political whispers of genteel Lucknow political watchers, stories do the rounds about "Amar uncle'' being the Trojan horse of Amit Shah, out to wreck the party from within.

Yadav Senior has certainly conferred political martyrdom on his son and until now, political heir, with the expulsion. Mulayam now wants to take over as Chief Minister, which is quite bizarre since the polls will be announced any day.  

Sources close to Akhilesh say that he did not want to rebel against his own father and give his uncles and Amar Singh a Public Relations coup. Optics matter in politics; victimhood is eagerly embraced, while the appearance of ambition is shunned. Sources close to Akhilesh reveal that he and his closest mentor Ram Gopal Yadav anticipated being booted from the party. Sources close to him say he has nearly 60 percent of MLAs supporting him.

Both camps are going to seek rights to use the party symbol and its name and both are hoping the Election Commission does not deep-freeze those entitlements. Akhilesh will meet MLAs tomorrow morning and then with majority support, lay claim to both.

Interestingly, if you look at the two lists of candidates issued by Yadav Senior and then in retaliation by Yadav Junior, nearly 80 percent feature on both. So what triggered Tipu's defiance? The prospect of jettisoning all the over-bearing uncles he has been saddled with during his tenure as Chief Minister.

From the party cadre to the people, Ahkilesh enjoys a lot of popularity, despite the Samajwadi government being a dismal failure in governance and law and order. It's as if he is "Teflon Tipu." The muck sticks to the party and Mulayam Singh, while Tipu emerges unscathed. Amar Singh and his machinations, specially his boast at a five-star party in Delhi a month ago attended by UP cadre officials and Mulayam Singh, that he would "finish Akhilesh" ensured that the young Chief Minister's revolt.

All his life, Akhilesh has felt slighted by his father. He rebelled to marry Dimple after his father sent him away to Australia to ensure they break up. He was sent away to study, and his father visited him once. Amar Singh's re-entry to the party earlier this year proved the last straw. Akhilesh decided along with Ram Gopal Yadav and wife Dimple, his two sounding boards, that it was time to step out of "Pitaji's" looming shadow. The trouble is that Mulayam Singh seems rather jealous of his son's popularity which extends beyond the traditional Yadav caste vote bank. This pan-UP good-will is what Akhilesh is hoping will translate into votes for him as he strikes out on his own.

The prospects of an alliance with the Congress party have also got a shot in the arm since both Rahul Gandhi and Tipu get along. Rahul Gandhi described Akhilesh as "a good boy" and Yadav returned the compliment. They both share a love for cycling and don't practice the "rough and below-the-belt politics of the cow belt" said an MLA from Akhilesh's camp. Earlier, Prashant Kishor and Amar Singh had met and proposed the Congress-Samajwadi alliance which was anathema to Akhilesh and senior Congress leaders. Having shrugged off Amar Singh, the irritant in the equation is gone for the Chief Minister.

He was also chary of his stepmother, Sadhana, perceived as close to Amar Singh, and sister-in-law Aparna Yadav who is making her political debut from the Lucknow cantonment constituency.

It's clearly Advantage Akhilesh as he starts his second innings in politics sans the heir tag and with a clean slate. None of the SP's criminal nexus mud will stick to him despite a lot of his candidates being also shortlisted by his father. Mulayam is clearly the loser in the battle between father and son and it's baffling why he has chosen to throw away the only bankable "brand" the party had. Those close to him mutter about "Tipu actually being an Aurangzeb who dethroned his own father Shah Jahan." Already, the mood in the Mulayam-Amar camp seems weary - they seem to be yesterday's people. And, the "secret deal with BJP" charge might stick as the duo are known for their political somersaults. Remember how Mulayam Singh took Mamata Banerjee for a ride in the Presidential elections, and the support offered on Amar Singh's advice to the nuclear deal and the UPA government?

There is no other city which is as political as Lucknow and conspiracy theories do the rounds about Mulayam Singh plagued by a mystery illness with Amar Singh capitalising on it. With the Yadav wars resembling a rambling soap opera, the only thing that can be said with certainty is that Mulayam has dealt quite a blow to the party he created.

Tipu's "Bua" Mayawati is keeping a close eye on the situation and hoping to benefit from it and so is Amit Shah who currently must hold Amar Singh as NBF.

Swati Chaturvedi is an author and a journalist who has worked with The Indian Express, The Statesman and The Hindustan Times.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of NDTV and NDTV does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.

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