Akhilesh Yadav meets Prashant Kishor. But CM wants to settle SP feud first
Poll strategist Prashant Kishor's meeting with Akhilesh Yadav has again fuelled speculations of a grand alliance between the Samajwadi Party, the Congress and other Janata Parivar outfits for the upcoming Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections. The meeting comes after Kishor did not get an audience with the Chief Minister for the last two days, including at the Taj in Lucknow where Kishor kept waiting to meet Akhilesh, as the latter met Lalu Prasad and left. Monday's meeting, informed sources say came at the insistence of a senior Janata Parivar leader.
However, sources close to the UP Chief Minister warn against reading too much into the meeting and said that there are bigger issues at hand. They say that CM Akhilesh Yadav is keen to be in the driving seat for all things concerning the elections, including the distribution of tickets and alliances.
While CM Yadav may have emerged stronger amidst the feud in the Yadav family, there is still no clarity on what role he would play in the upcoming elections, especially when a lot of ticket distribution has already been done by uncle Shivpal Yadav. The CM, said to be unhappy with the decision, is keen to change few names. There is also no clear message from father Mulayam Singh Yadav if Akhilesh would be the face of the party for the upcoming elections.
"Why should the Samajwadi look for an alliance partner right now. What is the logic?" an aide asks. While arguing that the party could think of an alliance after the elections if the numbers fall short of the majority mark. The aide claims that CM Yadav's popularity remains intact and that other outfits like the BJP have not been able to attract numbers. "Look at the BJP rallies in Saharanpur and Jhansi. They were not so big," the aide says. Akhilesh has been claiming that he has left the decision to form alliances on Mulayam Singh.'
Amar Singh the sticking point
He says that the CM is particularly miffed about the role of Amar Singh, who according to this source, is "trying to create a confusion by taking the likes of Kishore to party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav." CM Yadav, it is learnt, has expressed his displeasure to father Mulayam Singh in a recent meeting on Amar Singh's continued meddling and has also pointed out how Singh, who was recently re-inducted into the party, before he became the reason for the bitter feud, was going around saying unsavoury things about the Yadav family especially CM Akhilesh.
"Why should the discussion on alliances happen with Prashant Kishor in the first place," says the aide, while asking, "who is he, beyond being a poll manager?"
This aide says that Amar Singh and Shivpal Yadav went around town talking about the possible alliances was to divert the attention from more pressing issues in the party and to ensure that they stay relevant. Mulayam Singh Yadav and Shivpal Yadav have had separate meetings with the Congress poll strategist who has also been associated with the JD(U) in Bihar. The SP chief had met Kishor in the presence of Amar Singh, who reportedly drove him to Mulayam Singh's residence in Delhi.
This may explain CM Yadav's reluctance to meet Prashant Kishor.
In another development, Kishor seems to have run into rough weather with UP Congress chief Raj Babbar and the party's state in-chage Ghulam Nabi Azad flagging their reservations about him at the Congress Working Committee meeting on Monday. Like Akhilesh, Babbar dislikes Amar Singh and Kishor's meeting with the controversial leader has added to his anger.
Meanwhile, other outfits of the Janata Parivar including Lalu Yadav's RJD and Nitish Kumar's JD(U) have already come out in support of Akhilesh Yadav as the face of the prospective alliance.
Will the alliance happen?
In Monday's meeting, the reports say, Kishor and Yadav looked at the 'larger picture' and not particularly the alliance between the Samajwadi Party and the Congress. In Bihar, the decision to go into polls with a grand alliance had ensured that BJP, which had invested considerable resources, suffered a virtual rout. A similar result, may, however, be difficult in UP, where, the BJP has a mammoth 71 MPs out of 100 and a much stronger base.
Congress, meanwhile, even though may not be averse to the idea of being a part of the Mahagathbandhan, had sought to distance itself from Kishor talking of an alliance on their behalf, even accusing him of exceeding his brief. For now, the Congress wants to wait and watch till the drama in the Yadav family settles down and there is clarity on who emerges as the boss.