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Brother against brother: Mulayam backs Akhilesh, shatters Shivpal's dream again

Akash Bisht | Updated on: 19 April 2016, 16:39 IST
QUICK PILL
The dream
  • Shivpal Yadav has been Mulayam\'s No.2 in the Samajwadi Party for decades now
  • He has always dreamt of becoming the Uttar Pradesh CM once Mulayam hangs up his boots
The setback
  • In 2012, Mulayam picked son Akhilesh to be CM, shattering Shivpal\'s dream
  • Now, the veteran leader has again backed Akhilesh to be SP\'s face in 2017, calling him the best CM in the country
More in the story
  • Why Shivpal had a strong claim to be the CM candidate
  • Mulayam\'s relationship with Akhilesh - is everything hunky-dory?

Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav has put to rest all speculation about his younger brother Shivpal being the party's CM candidate for next year's Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls.

Speaking to reporters in Mainpuri, he called his son Akhilesh Yadav the best chief minister in the country. "Akhilesh is the best chief minister in the entire nation. He has done tremendous work shaping a new UP and helped uplift the poor and downtrodden. The next Assembly elections will be contested under his leadership. The development he has initiated is visible across the state," the veteran leader said.

Read- Civil war in SP: Akhilesh, his uncle, and the three aides he won't let down

Party leaders believe Mulayam has tried to convey a message to all those who are secretly working against Akhilesh. "The message is for all the seniors who are trying to push Shivpal's case. Mulayam has made it clear that he is still in control of the party and all the veterans who have a soft corner for Shivpal should march behind Akhilesh. After all, it is Mulayam who gets all the votes," says a party insider.

How the rumours grew

Mulayam's comments come at a time when rumours of Shivpal taking over from Akhilesh were gaining momentum in the state, especially since the uncle took over the state in-charge's post from the nephew.

Shivpal's appointment offered hope to his supporters, who thought that Mulayam will finally hand over the state leadership to his younger brother, who has been waiting in the wings forever.

This is not the first time that Shivpal's name was doing the rounds as the party's CM candidate. Many in the party considered him the front-runner after Mulayam decided to focus on national politics in 2012, leaving UP politics to someone in the family. This led to a power tussle within the Yadav clan.

However, after the SP chief announced Akhilesh's name for the CM's post, the Shivpal camp was left sulking.

Shivpal was the front-runner for the CM's post in 2012, before Mulayam picked Akhilesh over him

Ever since the SP became a political force in UP, Shivpal has dreamt of becoming the chief minister when Mulayam decides to hang up his boots. However, when the time came, the SP chief chose his son over his brother.

Once considered to be Number Two in the party, Shivpal lost most of his powers after Akhilesh was sworn in as the chief minister. Insiders claim that he has been holding a grudge ever since.

Reasons for Shivpal's claim

After the 2012 setback, sources claim Shivpal was getting increasingly impatient with this waiting game. He had been quietly working with party seniors to get an opportunity to stake his claim for the top post.

Also read- Bloody record: Is 'secular' SP more communal than the BJP?

Sources close to Shivpal claim that they had every reason to push his case. They say Akhilesh is facing the anti-incumbency factor because of mismanagement, which is corroborated by the fact that even Mulayam has, on multiple occasions, chided Akhilesh for his non-performance.

"Whether it was the expulsion of three of Akhilesh's closest aides, or Mulayam publicly lashing out at the Akhilesh government, reports of serious differences between father and son were being discussed within the party and in public domain. It's widely known that Mulayam was virtually running the state government, with Akhilesh acting as proxy chief minister," says a senior SP leader.

Shivpal had high hopes since Mulayam himself has pulled up Akhilesh for his non-performance

Shivpal's claim was further strengthened by the fact that the SP government has not been able to deliver on the promises it had made in 2012, as well as the deteriorating law and order situation in the state.

All this gave hope to Shivpal, who has an iron grip over the organisational structure of the party.

"He had every reason to feel betrayed after he did all the hard work in making the SP what it is today. There is no constituency that he has not visited, he regularly meets workers and discusses their grievances. This has made him immensely popular among the grassroots workers. These reasons are enough to back his claim," says another SP leader.

A political analyst based in Lucknow further explains: "He virtually controls the party and the veterans back his claim for the top post. Akhilesh has the support of only the youth, but that is not enough to run the party and the government."

The Amar Singh factor

Even Mulayam's growing proximity to Amar Singh was perceived as the sign of widening rift between father and son. Akhilesh has opposed Singh's return to the party, and was instrumental in getting him the boot in 2010. But, rumours of Singh getting a Rajya Sabha seat from the SP despite opposition from Akhilesh was seen by the Shivpal camp a positive sign.

Despite all this, Shivpal has once again been sidelined by his brother, who still has the last word in party affairs. "He will have to wait, and this could eventually be endless. But, nothing lasts forever in politics. Shivpal will pounce at any opportunity if there is a vacuum in the party leadership. He has support of the party, but not his brother," claims an SP leader.

Edited by Shreyas Sharma

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First published: 19 April 2016, 16:39 IST
 
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