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Has Mulayam Singh Yadav Finally Tapped Out to His Son Akhilesh?

Despite intense speculation that he would form a new political outfit and finally sever ties with Akhilesh at the meeting held on September 25, Mulayam chose to step back.

Manmohan Rai | ETV

Updated:September 30, 2017, 10:43 PM IST
Has Mulayam Singh Yadav Finally Tapped Out to His Son Akhilesh?
File photo of Akhilesh Yadav with his father Mulayam Singh Yadav.
Lucknow: The ageing wrestler, Mulayam Singh Yadav, whose “dhobi patak” was as famous in the political circles as inside the ring, seems to have finally tapped out to his son Akhilesh.

Despite intense speculation that he would form a new political outfit and finally sever ties with Akhilesh, he chose to step back at the meeting held on September 25.

The speculation was not completely unfounded as both father and son had shared a hostile relationship for many months. The stage was set for a grand announcement. But by the time Mulayam took the mike, he seemed mellowed.

“Akhilesh Yadav is my son and he has my blessings. Though I do not agree with some of his decisions,” he said, and categorically denied any move to form a new party. Akhilesh responded immediately, tweeting. “Mulayam Singh Yadav Zindabad.”

The father and son then held an hour-long meeting on Thursday. It was the culmination of weeks of behind the scene talks through intermediaries. Akhilesh tried to alleviate the grouses that have fomented since he staged the bloodless coup with uncle Ram Gopal Yadav.

The timing of the thaw in the frosty father-son relationship comes at a fortuitous time for Akhilesh, with the SP holding its national executive meet in Agra next week, where he is all set to be re-elected as the party’s national president.

The two developments show that the wily Mulayam seems to finally conceded space to his son.

A master strategist of his time, Mulayam in his five-decade long career has grappled with and put in place formidable political rivals of his time within the Lok Dal and Janta Dal.

He relegated the Congress into an also-ran in UP, became CM of the most politically significant state thrice, served as the country’s defence minister, propped up the United Front and UPA-I and UPA-II governments, and emerged as the tallest socialist and secular leader of his times.

But he failed to notice how the tide turned in favour of his son and the SP, which he founded 25 years back, slipped out of hands. “I made him CM. But he does not listen to me” was Mulayam’s constant refrain, sometimes public, during Akhilesh’s tenure as CM.

A bloodless coup it may have been, but it did not happen in a day. It came after months of strained ties because of what Akhilesh described as “unwanted and outsider influence on Mulayam”.

With his clean image and accessible persona during five years as Chief Minister, Akhilesh had emerged as a popular leader in his own right. Step by step, he managed to wean away veteran
socialists of Mulayam era into his fold. Be it Kiranmoy Nanda, Ahmed Hassan, Reoti Raman Singh or Naresh Agarwal, they all endorsed making Akhilesh the president and elevating Mulayam to patron.

Mulayam, and his brother Shivpal, were stunned by this overnight rebellion. Though they fought back to regain control, through legal as well as political moves, Akhilesh remained firmly saddled as the SP chief. The family feud also cost them the 2017 UP assembly polls.

The events of the last week, however, have shown some signs that the ageing patriarch is finally accepting Akhilesh as a leader in his own right, and giving out some reconciliatory signals. The October 5 national executive meet in Agra would shed light on where the relationship of the father-son is headed.
| Edited by: Aakarshuk Sarna
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