Friday, December 30, 2016

Has Mulayam just got himself dethroned

Ratnakar Tripathy

Akhilesh the doer inaugurates a pension scheme
The current volatility in UP politics allows for several readings and even the best of the reporters on the ground may find it difficult to gauge the minds of the leaders in the fray. The reason is the leaders stand as confused and unsure as anyone else over the shifting sands of the Samajwadi politics. Family sentiments have proven once again to be so ambivalent that cold personal calculations alone are not enough to explain the goings on in a palace seething as much with primal passions of the blood as the cool logic of electoral calculations. What makes this brew churn even more turbulently are the covert and overt interventions by the Congress and the BJP that have too much at stake in UP to allow the Samajwadi Party follow its due course. What helps in unravelling such situations is a good look at the party cadre and the supporters on the ground – the foot soldiers know best which way the wind bloweth. According to a latest report, ‘Within minutes of Mulayam Singh Yadav announcing the expulsion of Akhilesh Yadav from the party, supporters of the Chief Minister gathered outside the SP chief’s 5-Vikramaditya Marg residence here and started shouting slogans. The protest continued late into the night. “Gali gali me shor hai, Shivpal Yadav chor hai, Shivpal Yadav murdabad, Netaji hosh me aao,” they chanted. They also demanded the expulsion of SP leader Amar Singh, who they blamed for the rift in the Yadav family, and burnt Shivpal’s posters.’

I tend to take the above incident as the key indicator of the moment if nothing more. It seems fairly clear that Akhilesh, the son has outgrown his father as well as the other father-like figure Shivpal Yadav who virtually reared the child Akhilesh but now feels violated. Who knows a similar oedipal drama may unfold in Bihar where Tejpratap, the deputy CM and Lalu’s son is showing an inordinate fondness for law and order that his father may not endorse! At any rate it cannot be denied that in the context of the Indian democracy we do need a proper ‘dangal’ [confrontation] over and over again between the democratic values and family order if our democracy has to advance and deepen further. This is why the UP family drama must be seen the way a literature student may read a Shakespearean play to scratch below the surface. Rebelling against the father [or mother if Rahul can untie his apron strings ever!] till late was simply not acceptable in Indian politics and a voter would normally treat it as a dishonorable stab in the back. Not any more it seems.

There is of course the other viewpoint, a cynical one I encountered in a Facebook comment from someone I don’t know personally, claiming in a few words that Akhilesh’s expulsion will be reversed and things will go back to the as usual. Maybe! But a certain line in Indian politics has been crossed and the voter sees the goddess of virtue squarely on the side of the son. Remember Dashrath from Ramayana or Dhritrashtra from the Mahabharata, both of whom were seen as objects of pity if not contempt. This analogy with the epics cannot be overdrawn however and a broad daylight analysis of the events must take over beyond a point. What I do nevertheless see ahead is an increasingly towering figure of Akhilesh and continued frustration of the BJP in making any headway in UP at all. To say anything beyond this amounts to wallowing in the speculative so I am currently keeping a keen eye on the newsfeed is all. 

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