New Delhi: A young bespectacled MP with salt and pepper beard accompanied Ram Gopal Yadav during the Election Commission hearing on the Samajwadi Party symbol. One could also see Neeraj Shekhar, former Prime Minister Chandrasekhar's son in the frame when the uncle spoke to the media moments after the EC reserved bicycle for the Akhilesh camp late Monday evening.
Also Read: How Akhilesh Yadav Got the Cycle Symbol
Ironically, it was Chandrashekar's own party- the Samajwadi Janta Party which Mulayam broke away from to form his own outfit twenty five years back.
The only concession MSY made to the party was that he never fielded any candidate from Balia- Chandrashekar's LS constituency till the former PM was alive. Neeraj Shekhar after his father's death contested and won from Balia on SP symbol.
But then such is politics. Some would call it the divine comeuppance. Others, vicissitudes of life. Political pundits in the in last four months changed their verdict and punditry as often as Mulayam changed his stand.
And then there were conspiracy theorists who had a field day. For them it was as if MSY and Akhilesh met every day in some dark corner of 7 Vikramaditya Marg to plan and rehearse the next act.
Mulayam, though coming from the Hindi hinterland, had an early grasp on the importance and impact of media in modern day politics. And most importantly myopic understanding and scope of political journalism in particular.
As the chief minister, he unlike most heartland politician didn't confine this relationship he built with the media to Hindi press. He knew full well that for a larger role in national politics, he needed larger political audience. He needed to reach to Left in Bengal and DMK in Tamil Nadu or an NTR in Andhra.
In the protracted battle for the symbol and legacy, a battle which lasted more than three months one saw many shades of MSY, the father and a wily politician who spoke to the press only as much was needed. He kept most people guessing.
He never abandoned brother Shivpal even in most trying times. Mulayam stood by him, never discouraged Shivpal from giving his very best to claim MSY's political legacy.
MSY kept Amar Singh by his side. He showed those seeking a larger say in party politics that he tried his level best. To those opposing any truck with the Congress- both within and outside the party- MSY fought a valiant battle.
To sum it all up, MSY did everything to stop his own son from taking over the party. A son whom he groomed to be his political heir. Whom he fielded from Kannauj in 1999. Son whom he made chief minister in 2012.
The beauty of this entire endeavour was that despite everything, within a span of three months Akhilesh has both the party and the symbol firmly under his belt.
It's a transition Sonia Gandhi has struggled to effect in the last ten years. Or Karunanidhi has attempted to oversee in two decades.
And during this period, MSY not for a bit lost his old day charm of seeking out people. In the midst of high stake battle in the EC, he one day postponed his departure to Lucknow to meet a scribe's father. All to discuss the good old days and some teacher's agitation in UP he had supported while in opposition!
A senior BJP leader from UP told someone recently that MSY has been able to do what most of his contemporaries couldn't in their lifetime.
Settle his legacy and oversee transition of power. It was a bumpy ride though. At the end of the day it was worth it.
His son has his cycle now. And Akhilesh is firmly saddled on it.