SP War - A ‘father and son’ matter
One fails to understand, why people can’t see the simplest explanation to the ongoing family feud in the Samajwadi Party - a clear case of misunderstanding between a father and his son. Like, any ordinary family there is confusion, infighting, and misunderstandings that exist between the parent and the child, as well as siblings. But in the case of the Yadav’s conflict, there have been endless ‘conspiracy’ theories being floated by the public as well as the media, ranging from this fight being a stage-managed election drama orchestrated by party supremo Mulayam, to a coup engineered by Akhilesh to topple his father and usurp his post.
The truth is that there is an existing parallel narrative underlying the family spat in the Samajwadi Party. Keep aside the confabulations being perpetuated by different sections within and outside the party and the real picture of a father-son fight will clearly emerge. The fight for survival in contemporary ruthless politics is being aggressively fought by the members existing on the periphery of SP (M) and SP (A). Both factions are being voraciously fed by their sycophants, adding fuel to the existing fire.
During a reasonably frigid first week of January 2017, the only news been repeatedly flashed nationally across media has been the many series of meetings which have the regular participants – Samajwadi Party National President, Mulayam Singh Yadav, his brother(Party’s State President) Shivpal Singh Yadav, National General Secretary Azam Khan. Meanwhile, the other side’s active faces include Uttar Pradesh’s Chief Minister and Mulayam’s son Akhilesh Yadav (who has claimed to be the new Samajwadi Party National President, after the convention on January 1, 2017) and his close aide and National General Secretary Professor Ram Gopal Yadav. Amar Singh (and especially Jaya Prada) are intermediate participants as the drama unfolds.
In a dramatic press conference while addressing the media on December 30, 2016, an emotional Mulayam had expelled Akhilesh and Ram Gopal from the party for six years for “gross indiscipline”. Meanwhile the very next day, their expulsion was revoked with immediate effect, after a directive from Neta Ji. People presumed that ‘allis well’ and the party wasn’t headed for a split. But the New Year had different plans for the party, as during the national convention called by Ram Gopal on January 1, 2017, witnessed Akhilesh being anointed as the Party’s president, thus overthrowing his very own father. The public sentiment immediately shifted from the lovable ‘Tipu’ to the despised ‘Aurangzeb’.
Since, September 2016, the Samajwadi Party has seen constant churning, as intra-party factions kept falling out. Camp One or Samajwadi Party – Mulayam [SP (M)] and Camp Two or Samajwadi Party – Akhilesh [SP (A)]. The over-hyped family war has been seen from multiple perspectives. Whether Mulayam’s younger daughter-in-law Aparna Yadav is the bone of contention? Is Amar Singh's removal the way out of the SP-crisis? Ram Gopal has destroyed the future of Akhilesh by making him revolt against his father. All might be speculations.
Then comes in the significant ‘Amar Singh’ factor, sources have claimed that while Akhilesh detests Amar, Mulayam enjoys his company in his old age. Even, if there was a possible truce formula being worked out (with Azam Khan being the chief negotiator), then Akhilesh’s demands included firstly the removal of Amar Singh. Sources close to SP (A) camp claim that even though Akhilesh was ready for rapprochement talks the strict condition of Amar’s removal had to be implemented by SP (M). Camp Two then demanded their pound of flesh by asking for Ram Gopal’s removal, something which Akhilesh didn't agree to. Thus, the truce talks failed.
SP (M) and SP (A), after hectic parlays, had meetings with the Election Commission of India, presenting their respective claim over the party and its symbol. Asserting their faction’s claim to power, Ram Gopal had insisted that they possess the numbers to stake claim over the party. “90 per cent of the legislators and delegates are with Akhilesh Yadav, therefore, it is crystal clear that we are the real SP. We should be given the cycle symbol and considered the real SP,” he insisted. Meanwhile, sources indicated Mulayam too had emphasised that they would seek to retain the 'Samajwadi Party' name and its election symbol 'cycle'.
Even, if talks regarding an alliance with the Congress were on (before the announcement of election dates), the idea seems a distant reality now, till Samajwadi Party has its house in order. It’s to be seen if SP(A) post a formal split with the parent party, will announce an alliance with the Congress.
Presently, both the warring sides seem adamant and have reached a point of no return. Will SP (M) and SP (A) ride separate cycles (whatever symbols they choose) in the Uttar Pradesh elections in 2017, needs to be closely seen. Even if Amar and Ram Gopal are removed from the incumbent ruckus, will it resolve the problems between the father and the son?
Each day from the onset of the New Year – whether, in Lucknow or Delhi - the Yadav family has been embroiled in endless futile meetings with the party patriarch. SP (M) firmly believes that Akhilesh has been brainwashed by ‘Professor Saheb’ to revolt against his father, and dethrone him. Although a faction sees Akhilesh's self-declared succession as a powerful image-building exercise, others view it as an austere move. Is this adverse step, going to be helpful for the fragmented-SP, or will it be advantageous to the Bharatiya Janta Party or the Bahujan Samaj Party – one needs to wait and watch till March 11, 2017 – when the results are announced.
(Tania Ameer is a Communications Consultant and former Special Correspondent with Millennium Post. Views expressed are personal.)