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Mulayam Hits Back at Akhilesh Where it May Hurt the Most

Having lost the battle for the Samajwadi Party control and symbol to son Akhilesh, Mulayam Singh Yadav has struck back with a vengeance.

Pranshu Mishra | CNN-News18

Updated:January 30, 2017, 10:56 PM IST
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Mulayam Hits Back at Akhilesh Where it May Hurt the Most
A file image of Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh. (Photo: PTI)

Lucknow: Having lost the battle for the Samajwadi Party control and symbol to son Akhilesh, Mulayam Singh Yadav has struck back with a vengeance.

A former wrestler, Mulayam seems to have clearly planned his opening move, timing it with the announcement of the Congress-Samajwadi Party alliance. He had been lying low since the Election Commission virtually handed over the party reins to Akhilesh.

Mulayam’s sharp criticism of the grand alliance came on the day when Akhilesh and Rahul held their first-ever joint press conference and put up a show of unity on the streets of Lucknow, which echoed with their slogan — UP ko yeh saath pasand hai.

With Mulayam expressing a clear annoyance to this alliance, the stage seems set for a new‎ phase of intense bickering within the Samajwadi Party. This time around, it is not intended at gaining control of the SP, but strike at the alliance’s electoral prospects.

The key question now is whether Akhilesh will be able to survive the blow.

Mulayam has appealed to his supporters to file nominations against Congress candidates on the 105 seats Akhilesh has given to the alliance partner. It is a clear indication of his political move. In the people's court, Mulayam wants to project himself as a victim, who may not be personally against his son, but is definitely opposed to his political decisions.

Speaking to News18, Mulayam said: “Alliance with the Congress party will jeopardise Samajwadi Party's political future. Akhilesh should consider calling off the alliance.”

The intent is clear: Mulayam wants to question Akhilesh's political acumen, and thereby, lay a justifiable ground for himself to wage a political battle against his son. Mulayam's open criticism and declaration that he will not campaign for the alliance also has the potential to upset the Akhilesh and Rahul’s calculation for consolidating the minority vote bank. After all, Mulayam is the one leader revered ‎by Muslims over the decades for his tough stand since the Babri Masjid demolition.

The Opposition has been quick to lunge at the opportunity. Mulayam loyalist Narad Rai, who recently joined the BSP, says: “Wait for more to come. Many like me have been forced to leave SP because of the insult meted out to Mulayam Singh Yadav.”

BJP's state general secretary Vijay Bahadur Pathak says the phrase ‘UP ke ladke’ coined by Rahul and Akhilesh is an insult to Mulayam. “Is he (Mulayam) not the son of the soil? It's an alliance of opportunism. Akhilesh should first clarify on the questions raised by Mulayam.”

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