Slowly but surely, Akhilesh emerges numero Uno

Despite a battle within, the SP founder Mulayam has endorsed his son as party chief

Published: 02nd December 2017 11:19 PM  |   Last Updated: 03rd December 2017 08:36 AM   |  A+A-

LUCKNOW: At his 79th birthday bash on November 21, Mulayam Singh Yadav gave a perfect return gift to Akhilesh Yadav by endorsing him as a perfect son and as a good chief minister who worked for the development of Uttar Pradesh. While the Samajwadi Party’s (SP) patriarch’s endorsement consolidated Akhilesh’s position—he now holds complete control of the party—Mulayam’s studied silence on the role of his younger brother Shivpal Yadav in the party has left the latter in the lurch. The feud in India’s biggest political family that started in August last year refuses to die down.

Akhilesh used his father’s birthday to win him over again. Shivpal was conspicuous by his absence at the function, and wished his brother on Twitter. But Mulayam’s no-comment attitude on Shivpal put a big question mark on the latetr’s future in state politics.

Political pundits say that for Mulayam, Akhilesh is now the priority, not Shivpal, who stood by him when the Yadav family feud was at its peak last year. Shivpal had fought fiercely for Mulayam’s restoration in the party at the cost of his own position. Mulayam had defended his younger brother against Akhilesh’s barbs, but now Shivpal stands isolated and marginalised in his own party and family as well.

Analysts see it as Mulayam’s tactic to establish son Akhilesh as the unchallenged chief of the party by keeping the two other power centres and potential challenges—Shivpal and party national general secretary Ram Gopal Yadav—at bay. While Shivpal, left with very few options, is lying low, Ram Gopal has been relegated to Delhi with a very limited role in Uttar Pradesh.

There were speculations of rehabilitation of the sulking leader at the party’s national convention in Agra on October 5, 2017. Mulayam had dropped some clues of compromise between his son and brother, but it fizzled out as Mulayam did not attend the meet, letting AKhilesh have complete control over the party.

There was a glimmer of hope for unification during Diwali when the entire family assembled in Saifai village. Shivpal then expressed his dismay over being ignored for ticket distribution in civic polls. He supported an independent candidate against the party nominee. His latest statement backing a Ram temple in Ayodhya is another indication of his growing chagrin with the SP.

Early this year, Shivpal had announced a secular front under Mulayam, but the latter’s cold response forced him to put his plans of. The former state chief of SP may open his cards in days to come. “In the Presidential elections, his open support to the NDA candidate, his recurrent praise for CM Yogi Adityanath and now his views on the Ram temple may be seen as a signal to his future strategy,” said a political analyst, adding that Shivpal has been in touch with many important BJP leaders in Uttar Pradesh.

Meanwhile, after playing a crucial role in dislodging Mulayam as party chief in a coup of sorts and putting nephew Akhilesh in the party saddle on Janaury 1, 2017, Ram Gopal drew Akhilesh’s ire when he invited Prime Minister Narendra Modi to an event.

Brood Feud
Sept 12: Akhilesh sacks Gayatri Prajapati and Raj Kishor Singh
Sept 13: Mulayam removes Akhilesh as state SP chief, gives job to Shivpal
Sept 20: Shivpal expels seven Akhilesh supporters
Oct 23: Akhilesh sacks Shivpal
Dec 28: Mulayam announces 325 of 403 candidates for UP polls
Dec 29: Akhilesh releases list of 235 candidates.
Dec 30: Akhilesh, Ramgopal expelled for six years
Dec 31: Mulayam revokes expulsion
Oct 5: Akhilesh elected SP chief

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