SP and the tug of war within
Hundred days after Akhilesh Yadav took over as the chief minister of UP, feuding uncles and intra party politics within the SP have brought governance to a standstill in the state
Virendra Nath Bhatt
Akhilesh Yadav’s relatively young mind is not ushering in a wind of change in Uttar Pradesh. Being a hostage, as he is, of a dilemma whether he should go for his father’s wisdom or invent his own. On the completion of the first 100 days of his government in office, he was awarded 100 out of 100 by his father on other days he is reminded by none other than his father Mulayam Singh that he should prioritise issues properly .
Four months after he took over as youngest chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, Akhilesh Yadav is being referred to by many as a ‘Bechara’ (a poor guy), after being sandwiched between the feuding elders of the family, including the two uncles, Ram Gopal Yadav and Shivpal Yadav, who are at each other’s throats. Many say he is energetic but unfocused, often lacking direction, and forced to withdraw his own decisions. As head of the largest and most populous state, questions are being raised over his ability to deliver.
“None had imagined that Akhilesh Yadav’s government would lose its popularity so fast. But, he alone cannot be blamed for the present mess. Akhilesh has been made the captain of the team led by his father,’’ says Ashok Mishra, former state secretary of the CPI, adding “for Mulayam Singh’s old colleagues, the present chief minister remains a Bhateejaa (nephew) and they would never accept him as their leader.”
However, the Samajwadi Party sources say, it’s not merely the inexperience of Akhilesh Yadav, which has landed the fledgling government in in a mess. “It’s the power struggle with in the first family of the Samajwadi Party that was spurred by Akhilesh Yadav’s elevation to the top job in the state. Now, every member of the family wants to ensure his/her share in the power cake.
The ensuing power struggle has brought the his uncles – party’s national spokesman Ram Gopal Yadav, Rajya Sabha MP and former state SP president Shivpal Singh Yadav, the most powerful minister in Akhilesh government. Sadhna Gupta, SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav’s second wife, is also a strong contender in the power struggle and presently said to be close to his brother-in-law Ram Gopal Yadav.
“It is the strife within the party’s first family that forced Mulayam Singh Yadav to crack the whip in order to restore truce among the warring brothers. The present the ceasefire is holding and no one knows as to when it erupts again,” says an Samajwadi Party leader. The SP leader said the strife within the first family of the party has adversely affected the functioning of the party apparatus and dented the image of the Akhilesh Yadav government.
In the last two weeks of July, Mulayam Singh Yadav held series of ‘panchyats’ in Delhi and Lucknow to broker a peace deal among his warring brothers. Ram Gopal is his cousin and Shivpal is his younger brother.
According to sources within the party during one such meeting, Ram Gopal Yadav, expressed his desire to lead the party due to Mulayam’s failing health. He also pointed his fingers at Shivpal Singh, claiming his conduct, as a minister, brought disrepute to the UP government. Sources said Shivpal Singh Yadav shot back raising questions on the growing promioxity of Ram Gopal with a controversial Delhi industrialist and his recent foreign jaunts with him along with a Rajya Sabha MP of the party to a West Asian destination.
Mulayam Singh Yadav was so irritated by the trading of charges among the brothers that he asked both of them to either resign from the posts, they were holding, or patch up.
“The party is clearly divided into two camps. Right now, Shivpal due to his clout among the MLAs is much ahead of others. While Akhilesh Yadav is silently watching the drama unfold, and is busy in consolidation his political position,” says a party MP. He said “As of now Akhilesh Yadav has a soft corner for the Ram Gopal Yadav.”
The Ram Gopal faction wants to control the all matters pertaining to NOIDA, Greater NOIDA and Ghaziabad. He is said to be behind the posting of tainted IAS officers in NOIDA, which has now been challenged in Allahabad High Court. Sources said he is effectively performing the role once played by the then high profile general secretary Amar Singh. “Ultimately, only two power-centers will prevail in the party – one led by Akhilesh Yadav and the other by Shivpal Yadav. It would be an uphill task for the chief minister to either dislodge or prune his uncle’s wings,” said an SP leader and the minister in UP government.
“It’s a classical case of dynastic politics. When the family patriarch gets old, the succession war starts. Samajwadi Party is no exception’’, says Ashutosh Mishra, a political analyst, adding, “The family, the unifying factor for the Samajwadi Party has turned into its own adversary. The family has become the fundamental fault-line in intra party affairs party’’.
In such a situation every leader is expected to show his loyalty to one faction or the other. “It’s this factional war within the party that has led to policy paralysis in the state. This is corroborated by the statement of Mulayam Singh Yadav in the meeting of party Legislators and state executive, where he pulled up the ministers for non performance and ignoring the party cadres’’, says Mishra.
The most glaring instance of policy paralysis gripping the Akhilesh Yadav government is the little, or no, action against corruption, which was the party’s major poll plank ahead of the March 2012 assembly poll. The SP in its manifesto had promised to constitute a time bound commission to enquire into the cases of massive loot of the public money during the previous Bahujan Samaj Party government.
The SP had also promised to strengthen the Lokayukta. The SP government did the exactly opposite by bringing the office of the Lokayukta out of the purview of the Right to Information (RTI) Act.
Virendra Nath Bhatt is a Special Correspondent with Tehelka.