In Samajwadi Party, Ramayan re-enacted but with a defiance

By Soroor Ahmed,

A new version of Ramayan is being enacted in Lucknow, about 125 km away from Ayodhya. But in this re-make, there is no scope for Akhilesh Singh Yadav being exiled for 14 years––though he was expelled from the Samajwadi Party for 18 hours.

If Akhilesh is enacting the role of Ram and Mulayam Singh Yadav that of Dasrath, one will have to make out as to who is Hanuman and who is Ravan in this war of succession.

Besides, Akhilesh does not appear to be as obedient as Ram. If he is Ram one does not expect him to cross the ‘Lakshman Rekha’––obviously of a different sort. Several old SP loyalists believe that he had breached that line by getting his father removed from the post of party chief.

Anyway, the murky politics of poll-bound Uttar Pradesh has made it clear that the whole episode has less to do with democracy and more to do with monarchy.

Not only in Samajwadi Party, in other parties too the politics revolves around one person.

For argument sake, it may be said that 25-year old Samajwadi Party is dead and buried deep in the history. But Akhilesh seems to be alive and kicking. He is being projected as a victim of the tyranny of old father who appears to have gone senile. Whether Mulayam’s second wife has any role or not cannot be said yet sympathy factor has started working in favour of the young CM, who lost his ailing mother early in his life.

The whole drama is being interpreted differently by different sections of the people. Some may accuse him of being a ‘rebellious’ and ‘thankless’ son and nephew––as uncle Shivpal Yadav and his wife have taken care of him in his childhood days––and term his behaviour as a case of ‘filial ingratitude’ as in William Shakespeare’s King Lear.

However, there is no dearth of people who dub it as a clash of generations. They at least think that Akhilesh is a good departure from the old style of politics and that he wants to make UP Uttam Pradesh. His supporters see him as an icon of development, who has first as the state party chief changed the image of the SP and then as the CM that of UP.

It is difficult to say about the political fallout of the latest development, but one thing is clear: Akhilesh has managed to mobilise a big crowd in his favour and many fence-sitters in the party shifted their loyalty towards him as they know the days of Mulayam and Shivpal Yadav are numbered.

As his supporters had got electrified much earlier they may be able to overcome the loss suffered by the split in Samajwadi Party. But if this does not happen both the father and son would be doomed.

If SP is dead, the BJP and BSP are also gasping for breath. There is nothing like Bharatiya Janata Party and Bahujan Samaj Party in UP. It is only Narendra Modi and Mayawati. The test is not of these two parties, but of these two personalities.

This personality-centric election is not very good for democracy, but then this is going to happen in India’s most populous state in 2017.

Akhilesh, who appears to be eager to tie-up with the Congress––and even Rashtriya Lok Dal––may one way or the other, be able to compensate for the loss of the old guards in the party.

The rank and file of the otherwise moribund BJP and BSP are cautious in their happiness. The Lucknow rally of PM on Jan 2 came as a morale booster to the saffron party, but the party has not forgotten the Bihar verdict. Modi had addressed a huge election rally in Samastipur last year, but in the elections, the NDA could not win a single seat in the district and adjoining Begusarai district too. This was simply because there was no CM face in the state.

The BJP people also know as to how the war of succession in the saffron brigade in 2013 led to a virtual split in the party.

Lal Krishna Advani almost broke down. All the old and not so old guards were sent packing. Along with the patriarch and hero of Ayodhya movement, Murli Manohar Joshi, Jaswant Singh, Yashwant Sinha, Arun Shourie etc were dumped. Some of them were made a member of the Margdarshak Mandal, an euphemism for old age home.

Now Mulayam has been ‘elevated’ to the same status. And Akhilesh, like Mark Anthony (about Brutus) in play Julius Caesar keeps ranting : “Mulayam is an honourable man.”

Modi was never a Young Turk as Akhilesh, yet in the party of old and tired, he was projected as relatively young, fresh and energetic. So under his leadership, the party won the Lok Sabha poll just months after undergoing through the great period of internal upheaval. But then the situation in BJP was not as bad as SP now.

Yet if any one-man show is repeated in UP. it is likely that Akhilesh may emerge as the winner. If not he will have to wait for the next election.

Anyway, it would be wrong for the BSP and BJP to be gleeful because of the battle not so royal in the ru(l)ing family. They still seem to be groping for the Achilles’ heel of the young CM.