Apparently feeling isolated in the party he groomed for over two decades, Mulayam Singh Yadav on Sunday gave a miss to Samajwadi Party's release of manifesto which promised a host of schemes for all round development of poll-bound Uttar Pradesh.
Riding on the crest of "kaam bolta hai" (work speaks) slogan, Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, in his new role as the Samajwadi Party national president, announced a slew of schemes which prioritise development of the state.
The manifesto announced distribution of laptops, Kanya Vidya Dhan, Samajwadi Pension, laying of Purvanchal Expressway and establishing Janeshwar Mishra model villages besides improving helplines for police and women in distress. The Chief Minister directed all candidates to prepare a roadmap for development of their respective Assembly constituencies.
"The manifesto is a 'sankalp' (pledge) to form future government," the 43-year-old SP chief said, exuding confidence that his party will sweep 300 of the 403 seats, far more than the 224 seats it had won in 2012.
A highlight of the 32-page manifesto carrying photographs of both Akhilesh and Mulayam, but no snap of Shivpal, was Samajwadi Kisan Kosh for farmers to purchase seeds and fertilisers, perhaps to match the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Bima Yojana.
The document promised establishment of farmers' fund, 24 hours power in rural areas, Rs 1000 crore per month to 1 crore people under expansion of Samajwadi pension scheme, free cycle to girls in class 9-12, free smartphones under Samajwadi smartphone scheme, pressure cooker for poor women, free ghee and milk powder to poor students, nutrious diet to pregnant women at their place and 50 per cent discount to women in state buses. Metro expansion in Agra, Kanpur, Varanasi and Meerut, Samajwadi Party smart villages, construction of Purvanchal and Bundelkhand-Terai expressways, river front development in prominent cities, Rs 10 lakh to lawyers, less than 60 years age, on untimely deaths and Samajwadi sports school were some other salient features. However, Mulayam and his brother Shivpal as also Akhilesh's aide Ramgopal Yadav were conspicuous by their absence from the stage shared by top SP leaders, though the party mentor arrived after the press conference was over, blaming the delay on chock-a-block traffic on roads leading to SP headquarters.
Mulayam later remained closeted with Akhilesh and his wife Dimple, both of whom returned on learning that he had finally reached after senior minister Azam Khan, who doubled up as mediator in recent days, rushed to the party patriarch's bungalow to bring him to the event where posters carried the photo of both father and son.
Armed with EC order, Akhilesh took full control over the crisis-ridden party on January 16, nudging aside Mulayam's claim over the party name and symbol.