Swapnil Sansar. Lucknow. The inclusion of Akhilesh Yadav’s warring uncle, Shivpal Yadav, in the first list of 191 candidates for the first three phases of Uttar Pradesh assembly election starting February 11 confims widely held belief that the family drama played right before the nation was “scripted and well directed.” What appeared to be a real fight initially between father Mulayam and son Akhilesh was later on turned out to be a staged one. If that had not been the case then how is it possible that Akhilesh camp gave nod to his bete noire Shivpal Yadav to contest assembly election from Jaswant Nagar constituency? Shivpal has been representing Jaswant Nagar in Assembly since 1996. Not only that Mulayam stated that he will campaign for Akhilesh in elections. People remained glued to television sets and kept taking updates on social media about the next punch in shadow boxing. It enthralled the public for a while but as the lights were off real picture came to the fore. The present narrative, scenes and villains in SP’s soap opera had uncanny resemblance to the original plot that catapulted Akhilesh Yadav as chief minister of UP in 2012. The presence of Mukhtar Ansari sitting side by side with SP General Secretary Shivpal Yadav and merger of Ansari’s Quami Ekta Dal (QED) on June 21, 2016 happened at a time when assembly elections were round the corner. The incident created a perception that Akhilesh Yadav is unhappy with such a step. In 2012, similar incident was played out when Shivpal Yadav brought mafia don-turned politician D.P.Yadav into the party fold ahead of assembly elections. Akhilesh wanted to convey to the masses that SP does not wish to criminalize politics and he will put an end to such long established practice. Akhilesh took a strong stand then and voters rewarded the SP with absolute majority in 2012 assembly elections.
Recent turn of events demonstrates that an effort is made just right ahead of 2017 assembly elections to project Akhilesh Yadav as a strong, decisive leader with a clean image who is in command of the party to win over the confidence of electorate second time. The 5 years of SP government saw parallel power centres emerging within the establishment and the party. Shivpal Yadav emerged as number 2 in SP after Mulayam. The shadow of Mulayam and Shivpal eclipsed the image of Akhilesh. SP think tank knows that Akhilesh is their best bet to form the government in UP once again. Therefore, it becomes imperative to project him as a strong leader. Events that unfolded in the past couple of months do point out that family feud was a controlled drama to build image of the party around Akhilesh. It became all the more apparent when, curiously, Mulayam Singh did not put much fight over the bicycle symbol before the Election Commission. Now, the question is why didn’t Mulayam just passed the chair to Akhilesh and ensured smooth succession? Had Mulayam passed on the baton to Akhilesh then it would have given ammunition to opposition parties like Bharatiya Janta Party who will be quick to label charges of “parivarwad” within the SP. Therefore, it seems a roadmap was prepared to annoint Akhilesh in such manner that the move should blunt the charge of “parivarwad” as well as put him in charge of the party. Will voters ride the bicycle second time?The answer to the question is still in the womb of time.