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What’s Mulayam upto now?

Will there be early Lok Sabha elections? Two types of speculations – one astrological and another political – are doing rounds in the corridors of powers on the timing of the general election. There are astrologers among journalists, astrologer – politicians and practicing astrologers, who after studying the planetary position of political parties in depth, have forecast that the elections may be held in October or November, this year. Pulling out of the DMK from UPA-II, and earlier of Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress – have also given rise to speculation that the Manmohan Singh government may not last its full term.

In spite of the UPA being reduced to a minority, the outside support lent by Mulayam Singh Yadav-led Samajwadi Party and Mayawati’s BSP appear to give an impression that the government may complete its full-term and the elections be held at the scheduled time – in May 2014. But the outside support extended by the SP and the BSP is an uncertain affair. One can never forecast when and on what issue either of them would withdraw support to the UPA dispensation. Indeed, Mulayam Singh is keeping the government at the centre on tenterhooks.

The possibility of Samajwadi Party withdrawing support to his government has not been ruled out even by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Asked if he feared the SP may withdraw support to his government, the PM said ‘coalitions raise issues that give the impression the government may not be stable. I cannot deny that such a possibility don’t exist. But I am confident our government will complete its full term and next elections will take place as scheduled in 2014’. One does not know the factors behind this confidence or over-confidence of the prime minister. The situation appears to be quite fluid and anything may happen.

With the DMK’s exit, the UPA is entirely dependent on the SP and BSP, which provides outside support with 22 and 21 Lok Sabha MPs, respectively. While the BSP favours a late election, the SP is weighing its options on how long to continue with the government.    

Mulayam has been licking his lips in anticipation of the next Lok Sabha election. In the event of an early poll, Mulayam says ‘we will do very well on the basis on our performance and of our government’.  He hazards a guess, which one may describe as day-dreaming: ‘Who knows, we may get 50 or 60 seats (out of 80 up for grabs in the politically crucial state)’. Indications in Uttar Pradesh suggest that the state government’s image may not be as rosy as Mulayam is projecting to be. Not everyone in the state is buoyant about the performance of his son, Akhilesh as the  chief minister.There is talk  that decision-making has slowed down drastically in comparison to Mayawati’s autocratic rule, and that the SP has once again emboldened goons who flourished when it was in power on three occasions in the past. Mulayam turns combative when one talks of the law-and-order situation, blaming the national media for running a campaign in which every incident is highlighted whenever his party is in power.

The impression in Lucknow secretariat, apparent when a senior minister or a bureaucrat agrees to speak of-the-record, is that 39-year-old chief minister has kept a very tight leash on a number of groups within the state. These include seniors in his own party and thick-skinned bureaucracy. The joke is that there are five-and-half chief ministers in Uttar Pradesh. Who is half? ‘Akhilesh, of course’. The other so-called chief ministers are Mulayam; his brother Shivpal Yadav, who lost the race for ascendancy; Muslim leader Azam Khan, who has a held over some districts in Western UP. Mulayam’s cousin, Ram Gopal Yadav; the Delhi-based party spokesman referred to as ‘Professor Saheb’  in the party; and 1990 batch IAS officer Anita Singh, who is back in the secretariat after 2003-2007 when Mulayam was CM.

There are four members of the Yadav family in Parliament now, two in the UP Vidhan Sabha, and four others involved in various levels of politics. Deep inside their ultra-modern Safai village in Etawah district is a large white house with no name on the front gate. Mulayam’s elder brother, Ratan Singh Yadav, still leads a quiet life here.

Another sibling, Abhay Ram Yadav, is more comfortable tending cows a few meters away. Abhay talks of a time when the village was just desolate plots of land. Farming was tough and water scare. He went to Delhi once in the 60s to attend Charan Singh’s rally. He was neither a wrestler nor a neta.

Abhay’s brother, Mulayam Singh went from this tiny village to become a big mass leader, three times chief minister of UP and once Defence Minister of India. Out of nothing, he created a political dynasty. What about the chance of Mulayam becoming the Prime Minister? SP leader says ‘we will know after next election’.

Mulayam is 73 years old and not in good health. He is in a hurry. Time is running out for him. So he will take up the challenge in 2014 with all earnestness to make his PM dream a reality. (IPA)
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