Samajwadi Party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav will flag off the ‘Vikas Rath Yatra’ of his son and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav in Lucknow on Thursday.
The move hints at a temporary truce between father and son, who represent two warring factions in the party.
With Akhilesh cementing his base in the party after the recent series of expulsions and counter expulsions, the SP supremo reportedly told leaders of the faction led by his brother Shivpal Yadav that no action against the Chief Minister was possible at this juncture.
With the party’s MLAs, MLCs, MPs and office-bearers firmly backing the Chief Minister, Mulayam has had no other go than to agree to the formulations suggested by his son to lead the party for the Assembly elections in early 2017.
The widespread allegation that Shivpal, who is the party’s UP unit chief, and SP General Secretary Amar Singh were fomenting trouble within the party at the instance of the BJP has also put pressure on Mulayam Singh Yadav from annoying his son further.
Leaders close to the Chief Minister claim the controversy has helped Akhilesh Yadav emerge as a person who stands against corruption and nepotism. It also revealed that he calls the shots in the party.
Leaders from both factions have been asked to attend the inaugural ceremony. On Saturday, the party is celebrating its silver jubilee. Mulayam has invited leaders from other socialist groups to attend the programme.
A grand alliance in UP ?
Meanwhile, Congress poll strategist Prashant Kishor’s meeting with Mulayam on Tuesday has given rise to speculation that a grand alliance against BJP, similar to Bihar’s Mahagatbandhan, may materialise in UP. Kishor met Yadav with Amar Singh and reportedly discussed the possibility of an alliance of secular parties.
Rashtriya Lok Dal chief Ajit Singh is also reportedly in favour of an alliance comprising the SP, Congress, RLD, JD(U) and Left parties to combat the BJP.
Meanwhile, addressing a meeting at the SP office on Wednesday, Shivpal said cryptically: “After Bihar, the party had planned a ‘gathbandhan’ in Odisha also but some people in our party hatched a conspiracy…I can tolerate my insult but not that of ‘Netaji’ (Mulayam).”
The Samajwadi Party, which was initially part of Bihar’s grand alliance, had walked out of it after it was offered only a handful of seats to contest the assembly elections there.
When Shivpal was specifically asked if he would be present at the rath yatra flagging off the event, he ducked the question, adding to the suspense. “I am engaged in preparations for silver jubilee celebrations. If there is a yatra on November 3, there is silver jubilee show on November 5,” he said.
A cavalcade of over 5,000 SUVs and trucks will seek to send a message to the party leadership that 43-year-old Akhilesh is the “most acceptable” face of SP.
The over 60-km yatra route from Lucknow to Unnao is dotted with hoardings, banners and colourful arches to welcome the Chief Minister.
A hoarding put up by a youth leader close to Shivpal says “Shivpal kahey dil se, Akhilesh ka abhishek phir se (From his heart, Shivpal wishes Akhilesh becomes CM again)”, while some others only highlight Akhilesh’s achievements. “The hoardings put up by the leaders show the state of confusion in the party. It’s visible on roads. We wish this confusion to end with the start of this yatra,” a senior SP leader said.