Mulayam Singh Yadav, the wrestler of Saifai, is known for landing a punch on his opponents when they least expect it, and this should worry his son Akhilesh Yadav.
On the election eve, Mulayam Singh has criticised son Akhilesh Yadav for forging an equal partnership between the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party. For Mulayam, this amounts to destroying the Samajwadi Party, which he had built so laboriously.
Ajit Singh-led Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) will be a small partner in the alliance. As both the Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) have almost similar vote-share in previous elections, this arrangement with equal number of seats looks reasonable. It is unlikely that Akhilesh Yadav will heed his father’s advice and do a rethink on the alliance. The seats on which SP, BSP and RLD will contest the election have now been announced.
In this scenario, any criticism of the alliance from within is bound to weaken the SP-BSP-RLD formation in Uttar Pradesh and demoralise the party workers. Will the SP workers vote for the BSP, a party that Mulayam Singh holds in contempt?
So, why is Mulayam Singh behaving so erratic to hurt his own son’s electoral fortunes? There can be four possibilities.
1. Some say SP patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav, now nearly 80, could be suffering from short-term memory loss and his utterances should not be taken seriously. Few days ago, he had shocked the political circles by praising Narendra Modi in the Lok Sabha.
2. Mulayam Singh is not comfortable with Akhilesh aligning with Mayawati. He hates Mayawati more than he hates the BJP-RSS. Mulayam and Mayawati have fought one of the fiercest political battles in recent times, and the shadow of the infamous Guest House episode still looms large – Mayawati was forced to lock herself in a room after SP workers went on a rampage. This one episode decided the fate of Uttar Pradesh politics for nearly two decades.
But Akhilesh Yadav is preparing for the long haul, and doesn’t want to carry on with the hate-Mayawati legacy of his father. He is young, has time on his hands and wants to rule UP again. He would like to reserve political space at the centre for Mayawati, which is her next milestone.
3. Are CBI and other central investigating agencies still deciding how politics is done in UP? Several members of the SP are facing allegations of corruption and financial irregularities. Was this playing on Mulayam’s mind when he attacked the SP-BSP alliance?
4. Unpredictability has been Mulayam Singh Yadav’s middle name. If we map his political behaviour, such U-turns are frequent. He sided with V.P. Singh to outwit Ajit Singh and after achieving his goal, ditched V.P. Singh and sided with Chandra Shekhar. In due course, he parted ways with Chandra Shekhar too. He was accused of engineering defections from the BSP to form the government in Uttar Pradesh in 2003.
Similarly, he voted for APJ Abdul Kalam during the 2002 presidential election, leaving the Left parties high and dry. Indian National Army veteran, Capt Lakshmi Sahgal, was the candidate of the non-BJP, the non-Congress parties. The Left was banking on the support of the SP, but that never happened. Again, during the UPA-1 rule, Mulayam voted with the Congress on the Indo-US nuclear deal, leaving the Left parties out in the cold.