LUCKNOW:Akhilesh Yadav, who has become practiced at trying to coax his belligerent father into support rather than opposition, told NDTV today that he is “confident that Mulayam Singh will campaign for us in this election.” Yesterday, Mulayam Singh, 77, categorically ruled that out, ending a brief respite in his alpha-contest with Akhilesh Yadav, who is aiming for re-election as Uttar Pradesh’s Chief Minister. Mulayam Singh said his son has erred by insisting on a partnership with the Congress, an arrangement that he had forbidden till he lost control of the Samajwadi Party to Akhilesh Yadav.
“The Samajwadi Party is completely capable of fighting elections alone. When we did that, we formed the government with a majority. So this was not needed. I am completely against this alliance, I won’t campaign,” said Mulayam Singh, who is listed high on his son’s roster of star campaigners and could serve as an important vote-puller especially among older men.
“We will win anyway, but the alliance with the Congress will ensure a big margin of victory,” Akhilesh Yadav told NDTV in his first interview after his road-show yesterday in Lucknow which included Rahul Gandhi, Congress boss. Before their drive-through, they pitched the benefits of their political agreement for consumption by both voters and the cadre of their parties, who are reportedly not convinced of the merits of the combo.
Akhilesh Yadav said that his best chance at acquiring a second consecutive term lies in voters recognising that his government has delivered on development for one of India’s most-backward states “Now, when the phones ring, they are answered,” he said, referring to the implementation of key infrastructure projects like intra-city highways as well as special helplines launched for women in distress.
Mulayam Singh has issued a series of threats: that he will not campaign for his son, that party workers will be encouraged to diss the Congress collaboration, and that the tie-up will be inimical for the Samajwadi Party.
About two week ago, Akhilesh Yadav, backed by the signatures of thousands of party members, was recognized legally as the leader of the political outfit, defeating his father for the rights to use the Samajwadi name and symbol of the cycle. The Election Commission’s verdict came after months of Mualyam Singh, egged on by younger brother Shivpal Yadav, criticizing and undermining Akhilesh Yadav, to whom they allowed no part in crucial decisions like the selection of candidates for the election that begins next month. An alliance with the Congress, proclaimed by Akhilesh Yadav as a possible game-changer because it would consolidate the significant 18% Muslim vote in the state, was trashed.
Finally, the 43-year-old Chief Minister, coached by another uncle, Ram Gopal Yadav, went nuclear, announcing his own candidates, lifting the title of Samajwadi President from his father for himself, and signing on the Congress as junior partner. Mulayam Singh, he announced, would serve as Samajwadi mentor, virtually relegating him to retirement. A sullen father then chose not to stand by his son as he revealed the party’s manifesto, ignoring last-minute appeals sent to him from the stage by party leaders seated there