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    OpinionsHas Akhilesh Yadav shot himself in the foot by going after Mulayam?

    Has Akhilesh Yadav shot himself in the foot by going after Mulayam?


    Has Akhilesh Yadav shot himself in the foot by going after Mulayam?

    He could have tolerated his opponents within the Samajwadi Party till the UP elections got over.

    Brijesh Pandey

    Election dates in Uttar Pradesh have been announced and Assembly polls will be conducted in seven phases beginning from February 11 and ending on March 8. And true to the hype it has been generating over the last three months, all eyes are glued to the never-ending family drama within the Samajwadi parivar.

    Though the obvious outcome of this pari-war is that Akhilesh Yadav has checkmated the duo of Shivpal and Amar Singh, one question is foremost on everyone's mind: Has Akhilesh Yadav erred in going for the jugular of his party?

    Political history is replete with examples where trusted ones have checkmated their mentors, but nowhere has it been played it as dangerously close as Akhilesh is playing in Uttar Pradesh.

    There are many in the party who believe that Akhilesh has taken the battle one step farther than he should have. In going for the jugular by sacking Mulayam, Shivpal and Amar Singh in one go, Akhilesh may have committed one of the biggest political blunders of his life.

    What are the odds on this? Akhilesh may have decimated all his rivals within the party by a mile but with elections in less than 35 days, he may have also sabotaged his own, what could have been a spectacular, comeback in 2017.

    Instead of going for full-fledged campaigning, Akhilesh is still fighting a futile battle over the party symbol and legacy. Instead of going to the battlefield and taking his opponents on, he is still busy  checkmating his already decimated uncle in a battle, which, irrespective of which way it ends, will hurt Akhilesh more than anyone else.

    Sources or well-wishers of Samajwadi Party say that more than Akhilesh or Mulayam, it is their advisers, Ramgopal and Shivpal, who are fighting a battle for existence; and caught between them is the legacy of Mulayam Singh and his successor Akhilesh. Whether he will script a comeback at this juncture is very difficult to say.

    After proving to his uncle Shivpal Yadav and Amar Singh that he is the numero uno, the real Netaji now, Akhilesh should have returned to the negotiating table with his father. The message of the party was crystal clear to both Mulayam as well Shivpal and others: 90 per cent of the party is standing solidly behind Akhilesh.

    With more than 200 MLAs along with entire cabinet at 5 KD Marg in Lucknow, compared to the 15-20 MLAs and couple of ministers at Shivpal's side, the message couldn't have been starker. With this kind of power, had Akhilesh negotiated with his father, he would have been in a very good position despite considerable delay in launching their political campaign.

    With more than 187 seats common in both lists issued by Mulayam as well as Akhilesh, it was only around 40 seats which were contentious. Given the kind of frame of mind Mulayam Singh had on Decemeber 31, he could have been very easily manoeuvred to agree to accommodate few of Akhilesh's men and he would have gone ahead with the election campaign. But it is exactly here that the CM's advisor, Ramgopal, sprung into action, making sure no such compromise takes place.

    Ramgopal knew that any truce between father and son can result in his political exile. Same held true for Shivpal who would not let a more-than-willing Mulayam take a step forward towards reconciliation.

    With the “now or never” advice and egged on to the warpath by his “advisor” Ramgopal, Akhilesh is now busy fighting a battle with his father in the Election Commission, with chances of the election symbol – the “cycle” – being frozen by the EC very high. Prospect of fighting this election on a new symbol could very easily jeopardise Akhilesh's chances.

    With elections less than 35 days away, this is an unenviable task which he has on hand. The biggest challenge for him would be to make everybody not only aware of the new symbol but also to tell them not to vote for the cycle symbol, which many have been voting for almost their entire life. For it to percolate down to the last cadre and to make them imbibe the message would be a herculean task. Add to it the fact that serious campaign from Akhilesh's side is yet to begin.

    Moreover, adding to the burden is the task of fighting the rival faction within the Samajwadi Party, instead of either the BJP or the BSP.

    Even if Akhilesh hadn't been declared the CM candidate or 10-15 of his core supporters not accommodated, it was a no-brainer where the loyalty of majority of the winning MLAs would have been. A politician seeks electoral victory more than anything else and it was clearly visible how Akhilesh has been able to sideline the power centres of SP so easily.

    Akhilesh represents that hope that he can make his MLAs win the electoral battle not only in 2017, but also in 2019 general elections. His party “domination exercise” was complete and absolute. An allegorical reference to Arvind Kejriwal wouldn't be out of place here. During elections in Delhi in 2015, Arvind Kejriwal tolerated Prashant Bhushan, Yogendra Yadav, Shakti Bhushan day in and day out, till the results of Delhi elections came in.

    After securing power, the first thing which he did was to ensure the unceremonious exit of all three. Similarly, Akhilesh should have tolerated his opponents till the elections got over and if he had scripted a comeback then he could have easily executed his scheme of shifting Shivpal to Centre and booting Amar Singh out of the party. This approach would have been more prudent especially since he has already relegated his chacha and others to the dustbin of SP.

    Akhilesh held a meeting of his MLAs on Thursday and asked them to go ahead with the campaign, while also keeping a hawk eye on the turns of events at the Election Commission 471km away from Lucknow.

    At the same time, a pitched battle is being fought out by Shivpal and Amar Singh to script a turnaround in their diminished political fortunes. In the middle of all this is Netaji Mulayam Singh Yadav, who, only god knows, is either smiling on the inside at how he has taken everybody for a royal ride or planning a “dhobi pachad” on his own son.

    is all about knowing when to go for the jugular, but politics is also about knowing when to let it go despite being in what looks like a win-win situation.

    The Northlines is an independent source on the Web for news, facts and figures relating to Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh and its neighbourhood.

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