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2022 UP Polls: Mulayam Singh helping Akhilesh, Shivpal bury the hatchet to take on BJP


LUCKNOW: The recent visit of Samajwadi Party patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav and the jubilation among workers was a clear manifestation of the clout and political tenacity of the veteran who has helmed the state twice as chief minister and party as its president since its inception till 2017.

However, the 81-year-old SP patriarch has pulled up his socks yet again to see son Akhilesh Yadav back in the saddle of UP in 2022. Not only is he giving pep talks to the SP workers but also playing his part in mitigating the differences between Akhilesh Yadav and estranged uncle Shivapl Yadav and bring them together ahead of the crucial battle of 2022.

However, highly placed sources in SP claim that Shivpal and Akhilesh may get reunited soon. The announcement to this effect may take place on Mulayam Singh Yadav’s birthday on November 22, when the entire Yadav clan would come together to wish Neta ji.

The political experts believe that the charisma of ‘Netaji’, as Mulayam is fondly called by his supporters, may again come in handy for Akhilesh in putting up a respectable fight against the ruling BJP in the upcoming Assembly elections early next year.

Despite the age not being on his side, Mulayam has been spending time at the party office recently. He has believably made it clear to his son that if needed, he would campaign for the party. Moreover, the channels behind the curtains are already open to strike a truce between Akhilesh and Shivpal bringing them on one platform before the elections.

In fact, Shivpal has been making clear from different platforms that despite his overtures, Akhilesh is showing dismal interest in going along with him in the battle for UP.

“Mulayam, it seems, is aware of the ground situation of his party and is keen on bringing Akhilesh and Shivpal together,” says Prof AK Mishra, a political scientist.

It may be recalled that the Samajwadi Party had suffered big losses in the 2017 assembly polls. It had slipped to 47 from 229 seats in 2012 owing much to the family feud which was at its peak in 2016-17. The family was fallen apart with Shivpal stripped of his stature in the party by Akhilesh who even deposed his father to take the reins of the party into his own hands in 2017.

Shivpal Yadav, the younger brother of Netaji, has played a very significant role in nurturing the Samajwadi Party along with Mulayam since 1989. He enjoyed Mulayam’s trust and always held important positions in the party till Mulayam was helming it.

However, as a consequence of differences with nephew Akhilesh Yadav and an intensified family feud, Shivpal, an MLA from Jaswantnagar, parted ways with Samajwadi Party floating his own outfit known as—Pragatisheel Samajwadi Party-Lohia, in September 2018.

In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, Shivpal, could not do wonders himself but he ended up hitting the grand alliance of SP-BSP-RLD stitched to defeat the ruling BJP, a great deal. He had pitted his party candidates in such a way so as to split the alliance candidates’ votes. He himself had contested from Firozabad against his nephew and Ram Gopal Yadav's son Akshaya Yadav. The votes among the two relatives split and Akshay lost the battle in his bastion. BJP got its direct benefit and won the seat.

The political pundits feel that the Akhilesh-Shivpal rift has neither paid Akhilesh nor Shivpal during the last 3-4 years. So, the SP patriarch wants a patch-up between the two as it would strengthen Akhilesh who lacks the managerial skills and a robust support system. “Netaji realises that if Akhilesh and Shivpal will come together, the prospects of Samajwadi Party will brighten up.

Currently, there is a common perception about Akhilesh that he has not been able to keep his family together. The veteran SP voters still feel betrayed that he deposed both his father and uncle to get control over the party. If he shakes hands with Shivpal that blot will be washed away,” says a former SP leader who relinquished the party when Akhilesh became president in 2017.

Shivpal has complained publicly many times that Akhilesh doesn’t respond to his calls. “CM Yogi Adityanath comes on line immediately when I call up but not my nephew. That is my only pain,” Shivpal said a few days ago while interacting with media persons.

However, if the family feud continues, then things may not remain rosy for the SP in its own bastions in the 2022 UP assembly polls.