LUCKNOW/NEW DELHI : In a major departure from his stubborn attitude in the ongoing party feud, Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav sprang a surprise late on Monday evening declaring that Akhilesh Yadav would be the next Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh if the party won the Assembly elections. “Akhilesh will be the next Chief Minister and there is no doubt about it,” Mulayam, who was seen in a different mood, said late on Monday night.
Mulayam’s statement, seen as an olive branch extended to the Akhilesh camp, is apparently a fresh bid by the party patriarch to end the crisis that could hurt the party in the upcoming polls. However, political experts feel that it is also his desperate attempt to take his son out of the grip of his cousin Ram Gopal Yadav who has been Akhilesh’s chief adviser in the entire feud.
Mulayam had been advocating, at all possible fora, that the Chief Minister Minister would be chosen after the elections by the MLAs voted to power by the people in keeping with the party tradition. Now, it's for the first time that he has changed his stance and said that Akhilesh would be the Chief Ministerial candidate. Addressing the media all by himself, Shivpal and Amar Singh conspicuously absent, a relaxed Mulayam denied any rift or bickering in the party or family. “Party mein koi toot-phoot nahi hai (There is no bickering in the party),” he asserted saying that it was united and fully prepared to go to the polls.
Mulayam's statement came at the end of a highly charged day of sparring over the party symbol. With the very real threat looming of a total freeze of the party symbol, the cycle, the party leaders are expected to make one last attempt to pull back from brinkmanship and work out at least a patchwork truce. Mulayam is likely to meet his son, Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, again on Tuesday to try and clinch the modalities of a viable formula—to stave off the disaster of an Uttar Pradesh election without the SP in the fray.
This comes even as the Election Commission is expected to decide in the next couple of days the basic question of who will ride the Samajwadi 'cycle' into the hustings, if at all. Previous formulas of truce had floundered at one point or the other. And since even claims of majority support were being disputed, even a total freeze on the symbol was within the realms of possibility—hence the last-ditch effort.