The electoral battle in Uttar Pradesh has grabbed all eyeballs be it the electoral merger between the Congress and the Samajwadi Party or the infighting within the first family of this politically crucial state. The people of the state seem more interested in the assertions made by politicians than the promises made by several parties through their election manifestos.
The suspense is building up over who will eventually be the king of Lucknow continues. Adding flavour to ongoing developments is none other than former chief minister and Samajwadi Party patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav. After giving the voters a ‘Baghban’ moment by stating that he would not campaign for his son and Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav and venting his ire at the newly-formed Samajwadi Party-Congress alliance, Mulayam, popularly known as ‘Netaji’ in political circles, has added flavour to the high-voltage electoral battle by changing his heart and giving a thumbs up to the tie-up.
With Akhilesh ‘my son after all’ remark, Mulayam has stated that he would not just campaign for his Samajwadi Party, but also the Congress. The former Uttar Pradesh chief minister, who had just days before gone public with his deep resentment of the alliance forged by his son, took a 180-degree turn and said he would campaign from February 9. However, ‘all is well’ in the Samajwadi Party-Congress camp has not gone well with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s leadership, is keen to prove yet again ‘Main Hoon Na’.
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What’s fascinating is that the people of Uttar Pradesh have taken a backseat in this ongoing drama, enjoying the ‘tu tu main main’. With repeated assertions that the ‘cycle’ is now punctured’, the BJP is of the view that Uttar Pradesh will be free from ‘hooliganism and lawlessness’ only if it comes to power. Uttar Pradesh BJP chief Keshav Prasad Maurya said Mulayam’s blessings after much drama will not favour Akhilesh or his new friend Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi.
The Congress has expressed its glee over Mulayam finally ending all altercation with his son ahead of polls. “We are happy that the secular platform is ready for action and Akhilesh ji has said we will work towards displacing the BJP form the Centre,” Congress leader Tom Vadakkan told ANI. The Samajwadi Party has on its part said that it always has Netaji’s blessings reminding the voters of the 2003 family drama ‘Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham’. An ecstatic Samajwadi Party leader Juhi Singh said, “We always hoped that he will bless us and he has never disappointed us on this.”
The relationship between father-son duo has been ‘khatta meetha’ since December 30 last year when Mulayam expelled Akhilesh and Ram Gopal Yadav from the Samajwadi Party for releasing their own list of 235 candidates and defying his announcement of 325 candidates on December 27 for the polls. Two days later, Akhilesh inacted a coup against his father. He called an emergency convention of party workers at the Janeshwar Mishra Park and got himself elected as the new president of the Samajwadi Party replacing Mulayam, while the party patriarch was given the status of a mentor and senior most leader.
Akhilesh then released his own list of candidates, after which, both factions took the fight to the Election Commission. Mulayam declared the convention “unconstitutional” and called for an official national convention on January 5 at the same place. He was also quick to suspend key supporters of Akhilesh. Amidst all these developments, speculations has been rife that the family feud is all scripted drama to boost Akhilesh’s image and help the party win the elections again. Within hours of winning the ‘cycle’ symbol of the Samajwadi Party, Akhilesh met his father to seek his blessings on January 16. Terming their relationship as ‘unbreakable’, the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister made his stand clear that the father and son are not parting ways.
“I will take Netaji (Mulayam Singh Yadav) along…my relation with him is unbreakable,” he said. It should, however, be noted that ‘Kabhi Haan, Kabhi Naa’ in the relationship between Mulayam and Akhilesh continued even as the the Samajwadi Party released its election manifesto on January 22 and the party patriarch was not present on the occasion. Akhilesh had, however, said the party has ‘Netaji’s ashirwaad’. Voting in Uttar Pradesh will be done in seven phases – February 11, 15, 19, 23, 27, March 4 and 8. The counting of votes will take place on March 11.