Based on the life of wrestler Mahavir Singh Phogat, Nitish Tiwari directed film and Aamir Khan starrer Dangal has emerged as the third highest worldwide grosser till date collecting Rs 601 crores at the box office. Little did one realize that film’s title Dangal and its song ‘Haanikarak Bapu’ will become popular one day on social media in the poll bound state of Uttar Pradesh. Election Commission had already announced the poll schedule for Uttar Pradesh, Goa, Punjab, Uttarakhand and Manipur states but Mulyam Singh and Akhilesh Yadav are busy in their own Dangal for political supremacy.
The family feud of Samajawadi Party is turning out to be a soap opera with many twists and turns to the original plot. Initially, the tussle to control SP was between Akhilesh and his uncle Shivpal Yadav. But later on Mulayam entered the ring to enforce his writ on the party he founded. The political slugfest was projected as a Dangal between an ambitious son and ageing father with Shivpal in the background. Ruling Samajwadi Party is now vertically split as Akhilesh Yadav camp knocked the doors of the Election Commission and laid claim on ‘cycle’,the party’s election symbol. Timing is crucial in both politics and wrestling. At a national convention on January 1st, 2017 Akhilesh Yadav took over the charge as new national president of SP while Mulayam was anointed as ‘Margdarshak’ or mentor. The convention also authorized Akhilesh to constitute a national executive, parliamentary board and various state units. The writing on the wall is clear for Mulayam. Akhilesh had wrested the initiative from Mulayam. He also froze bank accounts of SP in order to pin him down on the mat. With polls just a month away and bank accounts frozen, Akhilesh wants to have an upper hand in the negotiations should a ‘compromise formula’ is worked out. On Friday 6th January, Shivpal Yadav held talks with Akhilesh to reach middle ground for a possible patch-up. Demonetization of higher denomination currency by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has put a strain on the finances of almost all political parties including SP.
Supporters of Akhilesh Yadav have launched a campaign on social media to build a positive image for the young chief minister. The song ‘Haanikarak Bapu’ from Dangal movie is now widely circulated on social media with pictures of Mulayam alongwith Shivpal and Akhilesh. The song is played in the background. The tug of war to take the reins of Samajwadi Party had projected Akhilesh’s image of a son who is ambitious and not obedient to his father. Therefore, ‘Haanikarak Bapu’ song,as the name itself suggests, counters the negative perception and evokes a symathy for Akhilesh in the political duel against his father Mulayam Singh. The objective is to communicate a subtle message to voters who are active on social media that Akhilesh is not an opportunist or power hungry person but an innocent one.
Akhilesh’s political future is at stake. Climbed down from the stated position will weaken his image and make him a puppet. To play long innings in politics one has to take a tough call. Akhilesh knows that it is a make or break moment for him. Failure in 2017 legislative assembly elections will make him politically irrelevant.
While, Mulayam Singh is fast running out of options as he has a limited time window on account of his age and health. UP plays a prominent role in national politics. It has 80 Lok Sabha seats. The political significance of UP state can be gauge from the fact that in present Bharatiya Janta Party government at the centre, 73 MPs are from UP. Mulayam Singh has got political acumen. Mulayam is conscious about the political reality that lies in front of him. The three months of acrimonious manoeuvres and counter-manoeuvres resulted in a situation where Mulayam became a titular head of SP that he founded. He was bewildered by the blitzkrieg launched by Akhilesh camp. He knows that the defeat at the hands of his own blood will not only cut down his political stature but also puts a question mark on his ability to lead the party. It will virtually put the lid on his ambition too to become the next PM of India in 2019.