As the bitter feud in the Samajwadi Party's first family continues, three things seem clear. That the SP is not going to split, that Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav is the new boss and has been able to muster up the support of a majority of party cadres and legislators, and that father and party patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav's influence within the party is on a wane.
Triggering another round of speculation, Akhilesh Yadav, in the midst of meeting his supporters for planning the Yatra that begins on 3 November, went to the Raj Bhawan to meet Governor Ram Naik.
Akhilesh meets the Governor
At a time when the grapevine is rife with rumours of the father getting back in the saddle to take control of the affairs of the state, in the face of bitter infighting among close family, Akhilesh is quietly learnt to have told the Governor that the majority of the SP MLA's, are with him, and that there is no threat to the state government.
A source close to the Akhilesh claims that Yadav has given Naik a letter which has signatures of a majority of MLAs who were elected to the Vidhan Sabha in the 2012 elections on the party's ticket. This, according to the source, was done to thwart all the theories floating in Lucknow that with uncle Shivpal and father Mulayam, not happy with Akhilesh, the government may be in a minority. BJP had even demanded that the Chief Minister go through a no-confidence motion.
The letter, the source claims, would also ensure that no demands are made for a no-confidence motion since the house is not in session. And that it was done today for the simple reason that the Yadav family, including CM Akhilesh will be not in Lucknow as they celebrate Diwali in their village Saifai.
Akhilesh had earlier called a meeting of the MLAs on 23 October at his residence. The meeting also aimed at sending a larger message that he is enjoys the support of the majority in the party. It is learnt that Akhilesh, in his meeting with the Governor, did not tell him about the re-induction of Shivpal Yadav and other ministers who were sacked by him recently. This means that he is still standing his ground. And that he is bargaining for the return of his confidantes, who have been expelled by uncle Shivpal Yadav.
The latter had also sacked senior leader Ramgopal Yadav, who according to Shivpal Yadav, was acting at the behest of the BJP to ensure that no harm comes to him or his family in the pending investigations especially relating to the Yadav Singh scam.
The Akhilesh faction has been alleging the same about Amar Singh, that he has caused this rift at the behest of the BJP. Interestingly, after Amar Singh was expelled in 2010, Ramgopal Yadav acquired influence in the party. He became the main resource manager of the party, something that Amar Singh had specialised in during Mulayam's earlier term. On his return, Amar Singh wanting to regain the old clout may have precipitated matters.
However, the matter of Ramgopal Yadav being taken back has not been discussed yet, according to party insiders. And the way he targeted Mulayam, in his statements, may ensure that he is not taken back immediately. Like a UP politician says, for the larger good even Akhilesh may decide to not insist on Yadav being brought back to the party.
Another influential leader from the RLD points out that even if Akhilesh Yadav is not able to get the numbers from his own party, his party and the Congress could fill in to get to the majority mark to upset any move to unsettle the government.
Meanwhile, the source also points out how Mulayam has tied himself in knots especially in the meeting on Tuesday, where he failed to act against Akhilesh despite publicly humiliating him. According to this source, the party patriarch may have promised the other faction led by Shivpal Yadav, Amar Singh and others including the family of Mulayam's wife Sadhna Yadav nee Gupta, that he will take over the reins of the state. But when he saw the support for Akhilesh, he had to rethink his stand, even as the CM publicly stated that he is ready to leave if Mulayam shows him the door.
An academic who has been close to the SP says that Mulayam's public statement and humiliation of Akhilesh has not resolved the crisis. He also points out that the way Mulayam came out in support of Amar Singh, even going to the extent of claiming that he would have been in jail if Amar Singh wouldn't have stood by him, shows that Mulayam does not have the age on his side, and that he has lost the political acumen that could have helped him negotiate this crisis successfully.
Another influential UP leader points out that 'Netaji' is not in a position to reach out to the public anymore, especially due to his fragile health, and that leaves the Samajwadi Party with just one public face, that of Akhilesh, which he realises.
Alliance with RLD?
Moreover, in another sign that the Samajwadi Party is not staring at a split, Shivpal Yadav, made a rather interesting statement this morning, saying that Mulayam Singh has given the nod for an alliance with the Congress and the Rashtriya Lok Dal for the forthcoming Assembly Elections. An Akhilesh confidante, rubbished this speculation, asking who is Shivpal to float such an idea, when he is himself battling to save his position in the party. A top RLD source said that Shivpal Yadav was in talks for an alliance before the this feud came to the fore.
The RLD source also says that talks with the Congress for an alliance have been going on, but on the question of a larger alliance with the Samajwadi Party, both the outfits have decided to let the drama unfold before taking any decision. The source also says that since Akhilesh Yadav has not reached out seeking support, it signals that a split is not on the cards.
Moreover, forming a new outfit, just a couple of months before the elections when you have the support of a large section of the party cadres, may not be the best idea.