Two brothers, in their teens, fighting over a new bicycle could be a source of amusement to the parents. But things could take a serious turn when the cycle becomes a bone of contention for a father and son. Mulayam Singh Yadav, founder of the Samajwadi Party, is hell bent on clipping his son Akhilesh Yadav’s wings. The young Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister was reduced to a puppet as his father went berserk with a slew of false moves. Mulayam’s brother Shivpal Yadav replaced Akhilesh as State party chief after the Chief Minister stripped his uncle of key ministerial portfolios. Amar Singh, Mulayam’s old crony, was appointed general secretary. Gayatri Prajapati, tainted in an illegal mining corruption case, was included in the Cabinet. Flip-flops unfolded one after the other in a comedy of errors. The Samajwadi Party may not need an anti-incumbency wave to hasten its doom in the forthcoming Assembly elections. The Congress made a wise start by hiring political strategist Prashant Kishor. He was instrumental in two landmark victories — BJP’s remarkable win in the last Lok Sabha elections and Nitish Kumar-led Grand Alliance’s triumph in Bihar Assembly elections. Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi did make an impact with the Khat sabhas during his ‘Kisan Mahayatra’. However, the Congress would have lost some ground what with Gandhi’s frequent anti-Modi rantings not being substantiated by what would be his party’s damage-control measures coupled with his sudden decision to go abroad. There is no indication that Congress chief Sonia Gandhi’s refusal to look beyond her son that saw the party sink without a trace in the general elections, has come as an eye-opener.
Political hara-kiri committed at the wrong time has become a trend of sorts. Closer home, YS Jaganmohan Reddy mistimed his exit from the Congress after the tragic death of his father and former Chief Minister of undivided Andhra Pradesh YS Rajasekhara Reddy. The YSR Congress leader was misled by the delusion that he could single-handedly win the Assembly elections. Chiranjeevi was swayed by the crowds that applauded his speeches across Andhra Pradesh. Yet, the Telugu superstar swallowed his pride and joined the Congress after his new party Praja Rajyam came a cropper. Likewise, DMK supremo M Karunanidhi dug his party’s grave in Tamil Nadu with his failure to pacify his warring sons Stalin and Alagiri. Akhilesh Yadav may have won the first round by his claim that 220 of the 229 MLAs were backing him. Nevertheless, one wrong step could brighten the chances of either the rival faction within the party or the BJP or Congress or Mayawati’s BSP. Akhilesh should take advantage of his popularity and explore possibilities of an alliance with like-minded parties, the Congress in particular.