With Akhilesh Yadav establishing his supremacy in the Samajwadi Party through a massive coup, Uttar Pradesh is in for a new kind of politics. The development will ensure that the Uttar Pradesh chief minister will enter into the upcoming Assembly elections away from his uncle Shivpal Yadav and father Mulayam Singh Yadav, which is likely to put talks to build a grand secular alliance in the state on the fast track.
The first indication of this became visible moment the junior Yadav was made the party’s national president – a position held by his father for decades – at a meeting of about 5,000 Samajwadi Party leaders in Lucknow on Thursday. He received a congratulatory message from a senior leader of the Congress soon after.
“It was merely a congratulatory message and had come from a really senior member of the Congress party,” a close aide of Akhilesh Yadav said on condition of anonymity.
The Samajwadi Party’s extraordinary national convention on Sunday also passed resolutions sacking Shivpal Yadav from the post of Uttar Pradesh party president, and expelling Rajya Sabha member Amar Singh from the party. Shivpal Yadav and Singh were also condemned as “conspirators” who were working to “destabilise” the party “at the behest of the Bharatiya Janata Party”.
Though the Mulayam Singh Yadav camp quickly struck back, calling the convention unconstitutional, and expelling prominent party leaders like Ram Gopal Yadav, Naresh Aggrawal and Kiranmoy Nanda, the Uttar Pradesh chief minister, with his massive show of strength, had won the day.
A secular alliance?
According to the Akhilesh Yadav aide, the senior Congress leader’s congratulatory message was in tune with the good relationship the young chief minister shares with the Congress’ Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra.
Though refraining from revealing the name of the Congress leader who sent the congratulatory message, the aide pointed out that Thursday’s dramatic development had given an impetus for the emergence of a young troika – comprising Akhilesh Yadav, Rahul Gandhi and Jayant Chaudhury (son of Rashtriya Lok Dal president Ajit Singh) – to lead the election campaign jointly in the politically crucial state.
Officials in the Congress also confirmed the possibility of a grand secular alliance, involving not just the Samajwadi Party and the Congress but also the Rashtriya Lok Dal and possibly even the Janata Dal (United) of Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, and the Krishna Patel faction of the Apna Dal.
Akhilesh Yadav and Gandhi have already shown enough signs of convergence. Both have expressed good words about each other in public. It is also hardly a secret in the two parties that the Uttar Pradesh chief minister is in direct touch with Priyanka Gandhi Vadra.
According to Congress officials, last week, just when the latest round of the Samajwadi Party family feud flared up, Gandhi had said in a party meeting that a “youth front” involving Akhilesh Yadav and Chaudhury could not be ruled out.
The Rashtriya Lok Dal and the Janata Dal (United) are in talks for an electoral understanding in Uttar Pradesh. Chaudhury has a good image among the Jats of western Uttar Pradesh and has emerged stronger than his father, Ajit Singh, within the Rashtriya Lok Dal. He is also said to have an excellent rapport with Akhilesh Yadav.
Perhaps it was the strength of this understanding with Gandhi and Chaudhury that led Akhilesh Yadav to defy his father as soon as 171 out of his party’s 229 MLAs in the Assembly of 403 agreed to be in his list of 235 candidates for the upcoming election. For, along with the Congress’ 22 and Rashtriya Lok Dal’s nine, Akhilesh Yadav’s 171 MLAs would have managed to reach the required number of 202 to shield his government from a crisis before the elections in the state.