Samajwadi Party supremo and party patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav had planned his party’s silver jubilee celebrations to bring all non- Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) secular parties together and stitching a Mahagathbandhan or a grand alliance to keep the BJP from making a foothold in poll-bound Uttar Pradesh. Instead, what actually happened was that he could not even bridge the fissures within the family and the party and they showed up, tearing away the facade of unity that he was trying to put up, with both the chief minister Akhilesh Yadav and his uncle Shivpal taking pot shots at each other.
All this while top leaders of other parties like Lalu Yadav of the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), Janata Dal-United leaders Sharad Yadav and KC Tyagi, former prime minister HD Deve Gowda, Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) chief Ajit Singh, Indian National Lok Dal leader Abhay Chautala and noted lawyer Ram Jethmalani tried to make light of the feud, with Lalu Yadav, whose daughter is married in the extended Yadav family, even attempting an onstage truce by pushing Shivpal Yadav to bless Akhilesh Yadav and literally goading Akhilesh to touch his uncle’s feet.
Shivpal Yadav made a veiled attack on Akhilesh, “Ask for blood, I shall give blood. Don’t make me chief minister, insult me if you will, but I know for sure that I have done good work. This government has done a lot of good work, I too have contributed for four years by doing good work in all departments that have been given to me,” he added. Akhilesh, too, took a dig at uncle Shivpal, saying, “You gave me sword but don’t want me to use it”.
Hinting at a possibility of a Bihar-style grand alliance, RJD chief Lalu Yadav said, “We are here to strengthen the Samajwadi Party. We have are here to chase away BJP from UP like ‘geedad’ (jackals) just like we did in Bihar,” he said.
However, the open infighting in the Samajwadi Party is likely to hit the prospects of a grand alliance and as expected, apart from Lalu Yadav, all other leaders kept the cards close to their chest.
Former prime minister HD Devegowda, when asked about the possibility of a coalition, said, “We are not in the field here. A situation might arise after UP, Gujarat and Punjab polls. We are here to attend silver jubilee celebrations on the invitation of SP.”