Lucknow: Back in the year 2000, Akhilesh, in his mid-20s, was gearing up to test the political waters as a Samajwadi Party candidate in the Lok Sabha bypoll to the Kannauj seat. His father, party president Mulayam Singh, was accused of nepotism and questions were raised on Akhilesh's political acumen and understanding of socialism.
Socialist icon Janeshwar Mishra, often known as 'Chote Lohiya', then stepped forward to bail out Akhilesh and silence his critics. Janeshwar had then said it was not politics of nepotism but the nepotism of struggle.
For him, the Samajwadi Party was about the politics of struggle, and Akhilesh was there not to reap the fortunes but to carry forward the political struggle. How right Janeshwar was in his political understanding about Samajwadi Party and Mulayam Singh might be debatable. But for Akhilesh, from then on there would be no better political guide than the much respected socialist leader — not just in Parliament, but also on the history of socialism.
Senior journalist and socialist thinker Ambrish Kumar says, "Akhilesh's immense respect for the late leader had often been evident in his speeches and gestures. Setting up a park — often described as the biggest in Asia — in the name of Mishra is just one of his gestures of respect."
It could be irony or coincidence that now, at a time the young chief minister is involved in a challenging leadership struggle against his own father and uncle, his team is operating out of the Janeshwar Mishra trust. In its office at the sprawling 7 Bandariya Bagh, a stone's throw from the SP office on Vikramaditya Marg, sit key members of team Akhilesh, some of whom had been unceremoniously shown the door by the party.
The office of the Trust was inaugurated by Akhilesh on October 9, just days after his aides like MLC Sunil Sajan, Anand Bhadauri and Sanjay Lathar were sacked and barred from entering the party office premises. The absence of most of the senior party leaders, including Mulayam and Shivpal, at the inauguration had clearly exposed the rift. No doubt then that the Janeshwar Mishra Trust is almost a de facto address for Akhilesh's party.
And it's not just the young brigade which works out of this new centre of power. Old guards and Mulayam loyalists, like Rajendra Chowdhry, who is a minister, and SRS Yadav, who served as office secretary for the party for over two decades have now shifted to the new address. Both were considered close to Akhilesh and hence had to face Shivpal's anger. While Rajendra was removed as chief spokesperson, SRS was sacked from the post of party office secretary.
It was here at the Trust office, where a meeting of rebel youth leaders was held on Tuesday that an open call of support for Akhilesh and a boycott of the party's 25th anniversary programme was given.
A visitor to Bandariya Bagh office now will definitely see many such faces which till recently were visible at 4, Vikramaditya Marg Party office. But the same faces are now busy playing a different political role. As a prominent youth face of team Akhilesh quotes Dr Lohiya: "Zinda qaume paanch saal intezar nahin karti (living people don't wait for five years)”.