Having anointed himself the party’s National President, in a dramatic coup against his wrestler-turned-politician father, the 43-year-old Akhilesh Yadav is in full control of the party, party insiders say.
Barring a few family members from his village Saifai in Etawah and not more than two dozen legislators, Mulayam Singh, the family patriarch, seems to be isolated, party leaders admit.
Cornered through a Akhilesh-backed resolution that left him with the mere tag of ‘marg darshak’ (mentor), Mulayam Singh is now left with very little leg room to manoeuvre his way back as the party’s unquestioned boss.
Egged on by uncle and Rajya Sabha member Ram Gopal Yadav, Akhilesh Yadav has been making the right moves since raising the banner of revolt against his ageing father.
And Yadav junior has since gone on an offensive.
The Chief Minister enjoys the backing of 209 legislators and 51 MLCs, all of whom signed affidavits on Thursday swearing their support to his leadership.
On Friday, Shivpal Yadav, Mulayam Singh’s brother, met Akhilesh Yadav at the latter’s residence, apparently to discuss possible rapprochement.
“The Chief Minister is clear. There is no going back now. He is not averse to his father but cannot stake his political career on the palace intrigues in the family,” a close aide told IANS.
Sunil Singh Sajan, an Akhilesh protege, says their faction was unfazed by reports that the party symbol ‘cycle’ may be frozen by the Election Commission.
“A lot of development has taken place under Akhilesh Yadav. People see him as a harbinger of good and prosperity, we will work on it,” said Udayveer Singh, another MLC close to the Chief Minister.
In another move, aided by legal eagles, the Akhilesh camp has told banks to freeze the Samajwadi Party accounts.
As a result, more than Rs 500 crore belonging to the party, which till now was operational with the signature of Shivpal Yadav, the estranged uncle of the Chief Minister, have been put on hold.
Most of the old guard and Mulayam loyalists like Reoti Raman Singh, Balram Yadav, Rajendra Chowdhary and Ahmad Hasan have turned their back on the party supremo who once dreamt of becoming the Prime Minister.
Even the new generation with its roots in the Yadav clan – Tej Pratap Yadav (Mainpuri MP), Budayun MP Dharmendra Yadav, Kannauj MP Dimple Yadav and many second-rung politicians – have accepted Akhilesh Yadav as their leader.
Family elders too feel that Mulayam Singh should reconcile to the rise of the son.
The other two brothers of Mulayam Singh – Abhay Ram Yadav and Rajpal Yadav – have come to Lucknow, in a rare appearance, to douse the family fire and thrash a respectable way out for the father and son.
Mulayam Singh is left with only a handful of diehard loyalists like brother Shivpal Yadav, Rajya Sabha MP Amar Singh and actor-turned-politician Jaya Prada.
All eyes are on the Election Commission to see to who it will allot the ‘cycle’ symbol — the Mulayam or Akhilesh faction.
With staggered Uttar Pradesh assembly polls set to start on February 11, the decision will have a major bearing on the electoral battle.