Shrewd brothers of destiny
Two former CMs in Hindi heartland states have been striving hard to revive their bases in their states, after suffering the worst ever defeat by the saffron party in the recent Lok Sabha elections. Both have certain things in common though: one succeeded in getting his family members elected to Lok Sabha from his state, whereas the other had to eat dust with drubbing of his two core family members in his state. Both have been showcasing themselves as the trustworthy well-wisher of Muslims; a bedrock of secularism. Both started their political journeys on an anti- Congress pitch and ultimately landed to a ground conducive in providing direct or indirect help to the very same party led by the Nehru-Gandhi family.
Both have been successfully piloting their respective parties based on their glorified and magnified personalities by turning the parties into their family affairs. The one from Uttar Pradesh, Mulayam Singh Yadav initially wanted to become a Akhara King whereas the other Yadav from Bihar, Lalu Prasad Yadav initially developed himself as a student leader joining Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narain in his Sampoorn Kranti Andolan, ultimately becoming a crowd puller and a shrewd politician.
Mulayam Singh Yadav is one of the only politicians responsible in making the Congress party a spent force in Uttar Pradesh. The rise of these two personality based parties i.e. Samajwadi Party and BSP have become formidable regional forces in the state, sending the largest number of members in the lower house of Parliament. Though BSP also functions on the principle of personality cult, but it has no scope in developing its future leadership from the family as evident in the SP as the entire family such as son, daughter in law, brothers and nephews are not only elected representatives but rest of the family members are frequently calling shots. Mulayam, first elected as MLA in 1967, switched over to the Legislative Council as Leader of Opposition, number of times elected to Lok Sabha, became an MOS in his state, thrice CM and Union Defence Minister in the UF Government headed by Devegowda, had been in Lok Dal, Janta Party, Janta Dal, Samajwadi Janta party of Chandra Shekhar and finally formed his own Samajwadi party in 1992. He is one politician like Farooq Abdullah to hand over the baton of his home state to his son while actively remaining in politics. Mulayam may be seen as a harsh father; he rarely hesitates in openly criticising his son Akhilesh, the CM, on loosing grip over administration and the deteriorating law and order situation. Mulayam has also been displaying casual approach while reacting to the rape cases in Uttar Pradesh by stating that boys can commit mistakes and boys would be boys.
The other Yadav, Lalu Prasad was first elected to Lok Sabha in 1977, he was the youngest member in the house. Lalu had been elected to the Assembly and Lok Sabha a number of times, though losing on a few occasions.
Starting from Janta Party, he finally formed his RJD in 1997 and is today one of the largest serving Presidents of a political party in the country. He ruled the state directly from 1990 to 1997 and by proxy from 1997 to 2005, Rabri Devi being the CM. During UPA-I Manmohan Singh government, Lalu Prasad took over as Railway Minister to ensure a turnaround in the Railways, turning it as a huge profit yielding concern from a fragile loss making organisation without any hike in fare and freight for five years. Both have been aspiring the highest executive post of the country and been politically and tactically deriving mileage out of the Muslim- Yadav combination. Lalu Prasad has been discredited with multi crore fodder scams, sentenced, jailed and disqualified from Lok Sabha though Mulayam has been facing cases of income disproportionate to sources. Lalu Prasad arrested Advani during the rath yatra in Bihar on 23 October 1990 resulting in the downfall of the V P Singh government at centre. The other Yadav, Mulayam also took stern police action against Rambhakts and Uttrakhand women supporters to establish himself as a hardcore secular which earned him a satiric nick name Maulana. But both Yadavs, against division of their respective state, ultimately had to surrender. Both have a strong mass base and have been opposing the English language, Mulayam still continues to be an English hater though Lalu reintroduced English in the school curriculum in Bihar.
Mulayam has no intention to normalise relations with his so called hardcore opponent
Mayawati though Lalu Prasad has of late accepted friendship with his staunch critic Nitish Kumar in his state.
Mulayam is sometimes seen appreciating certain BJP leaders but Lalu Prasad has no soft corner whatsoever for the saffron party, till date he has not congratulated the new PM. During 2014 Lok sabha elections, Mulayam managed to get elected himself from two states, his daughter in law and two nephews but Lalu failed to get his wife Rabri and daughter Misa elected from Bihar. Is it also a coincidence that both the parties were able to secure 20 per cent votes in respective states. Anyhow, both the Yadavs today are much worried as they face a daunting task ahead.