By Arun Srivastava
Sons of the illustrious fathers are often evaluated into the backdrop of the long-drawn-out shadows of their dads. This is the common perception. The people expect same nature and dimension of performance as what their fathers have achieved. While indulging in this nature of appraisal they tend to conveniently forget that two individuals cannot be the same. They will act and behave differently.
There are number of such cases. But I am choosing three examples; first Akhilesh Yadav son of Mulayam Singh Yadav, Tejashvi Yadav son of Lalu Prasad Yadav and Abhishek Bachchan son of Amitabh Bachchan. The three fathers of the three sons are the consummate masters of their professions. People also compare the shows of the sons with their fathers. Nevertheless a closer look would make it clear that Abhishek as an actor and Tejashvi as the politician have managed to perform quite well stepping out of the shadow of their respective fathers.
Abhishek is undoubtedly a no less mature performer than Amitabh, but people still look at him as his carbon copy, they are reluctant to repose their trust in him. Same is the case with Tejashvi. He has a broader outlook and political vision but people are not willing to accept him as the new trend setter. People still try to find him in the frame work of Lalu.
In 2021 assembly election, the young heir without so called traditional expertise and experience succeeded in presenting the RJD as the major challenger to the political hegemony of Narendra Modi. No doubt Lalu was projected as the messiah of the poor on the strength of his Muslim and Yadav political blend, but Tejashvi nevertheless managed to add a section of upper caste to become the part of the political fulcrum of the party. This he could achieve on his own.
But unfortunately the political success continues to evade Akhilesh Yadav, notwithstanding being the claimant of legacy of Mulayam Singh Yadav. Ever since Akhilesh took command of the Samajwadi Party he has not launched a visible and comprehensive movement against the BJP. Only he knows the reason for his reluctance.
While Mulayam did not miss any situation to embarrass his opponents he always looked forward to embrace the splintered forces. He was not arrogant and usually come out of his office chamber and sit in open so that the people could meet him or have his glimpse. But Akhilesh has refused to follow in his political line and strategy. The latest political development is the most glaring example.
As the Congress has been doing in the case of other anti-BJP parties, it also extended invitation to Akhilesh Yadav to join the Yatra on January 3, the it would enter Uttar Pradesh. He not only refused to extend his moral support but even came out with the observation; “The Congress and the BJP are one and the same.” He even said that the Congress and the BJP are ideologically the same. This leaves little to make out about his understanding of the prevalent political situation in the country. Shockingly how could Akhilesh could absolve BJP and especially Narendra Modi of destroying the democracy.
A media report mentioned that Akhilesh supported the Yatra in spirit but “Our principles are different”. Of course he ought to have an independent and different view, but his equating Congress with BJP does against his own stand. If the Congress is akin to BJP hew at the outset should have refused. His exonerating BJP speaks of his approach towards the damages inflicted by the BJP on the body politic. In fact the Congress communications chief Jairam Ramesh was absolutely right in telling a newspaper: “Laughable. If he can’t or doesn’t want to join the Bharat Jodo Yatra, he should find better reasons for not joining.”
It is an open secret that Akhilesh does not have a harmonious relation with the Congress leadership. True speaking he does not have a good fraternal relation with any of the opposition party and its leadership. He appears to be living in a political island. The electoral defeat of 2017 and 2022 assembly polls continues to haunt him. But in politics past events are not remembered and treaded. Interestingly Mayawati would not join, but she did not equate Congress with BJP.
However a senior UP Congress leader Lallu said: “The Congress tried its best to forge Opposition unity over the last many years but these parties are not honest about their tactics and approach. They are scared of the BJP… jail bhej denge agar Congress ke saath gaye to”.
The reluctance of Akhilesh to take the BJP head on is certainly opaque. Mishandling of backwards quota issue for civic polls by BJP has provided an opportunity to Akhilesh to hit the streets. But he did not show much enthusiasm. The only exception has been Mayawati. Only a week back the Allahabad High Court had directed UP government to conduct Civic polls without backward quota. The court issued the directive after the BJP government had issued the notification for holding civic polls without setting up backward commission and three phase survey. If at all the state was really interested to benefit the backward castes it should have responded to the directives. Akhilesh simply performed the rituals by criticising the action of the BJP by saying that it was against the reservation for backwards.
Though both, the subjective and objective, conditions are congenial for mobilisation of the poor and bringing together the backward castes, Dalits and EBC on one single forum, the assembly election of 2022 exposed that the instead of fighting together against the exploitation and oppression of the upper castes these castes are pitted against each other. Even a close insight into the clashes amongst these people makes it explicit that the differences are basically not of the nature of caste awareness but of the nature of ego clash. The leaders of these castes are concerned of their personal gains and image than the class interest of the poor and Dalits.
It is irony that the leaders of the poor and Dalits treat the BJP as their ally and are willing to go to any extent with them to ensure the defeat of the other parties boasting to uphold the poor’s interest. Of course in 2017 assembly election Akhilesh had entered into alliance with BSP of Mayawati. But the element of distrust among the partners torpedoed the strategy of transferring of dalit votes to the SP candidate and vice versa.
Akhilesh’s style of functioning has even inflicted massive damage to his own party. His uncle, the number two leader in the party during the days of Mulayam deserted the party as he was not paid due respect and honourable treatment by Akhilesh. He even formed his own party PSP. It was during the recent Lok Sabha election to Azamgarh that he came back to help Akhilesh’s wife, his daughter in law. The most important Muslim leader Azam Khan, the closet protégé of Mulayam is having a strained relation with Akhilesh. The reason is known only to Akhilesh. When Azam Khan was slapped with a range of charges and jailed with his wife and son for months by the BJP government, Akhilesh preferred to maintain a passive silence and even ignored him.
In this election Akhilesh did not take any initiative to open talk with Mayawati and forge some kind of alliance with her. In the 2022 assembly election though the BSP did not win any seat, it got 12 per cent of votes. This is quite reflective of the importance of the dalit-jatav votes. It is beyond imagination how could a leader claiming to defeat the mighty BJP ignore this sizeable proportion of Jatav votes and let it shift to the saffron party? This does not reinforce their claim of being anti BJP. It are also aware of the fact that BJP gets its strength from its parent organisation RSS, which is committed to transforming India into a Hindu Rashtra.
He should also realise that the people, especially Dalits have come to know of the trade trick of Samajwadi Party of using the names of Ram Manohar Lohia and B R Ambedkar. He has admitted “We tried to realise the dream of Ram Manohar Lohia and B R Ambedkar of bringing the Bahujan forces on one platform, but those in power misused the official machinery and we failed”. The question arises if the poor and Dalits in Bihar and Bengal could frustrate the efforts of BJP, why then they failed in UP? Why they did not rise to protect their rights to vote? It is worth mentioning that in 2019 the SP had contested the Lok Sabha election in alliance with the BSP and had won 15 seats out of 80; five for SP and 10 for BSP. The BJP did not succeed in wiping them out.
It is absolutely clear that if the prevailing political narratives are any indicator, it could safely be said that the BJP will have a smooth sailing at the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. No doubt the Congress will find tough to challenge the political hegemony of Modi and redesign new type caste equation, other regional satraps and their parties will receive a suffer a major jolt. While Akhilesh does not appear to be keen to bring other caste groups to bring on one table, he is consistently facing infighting within his own party and clan. Losing the by-elections in the Samajwadi Party (SP) bastions of Azamgarh and Rampur has raised serious questions about the party’s future prospects in electoral politics.
Party sources emphasise that he is planning to overhaul the organisational structure. But he ought to realise that replacing A with B is not sufficient to refurnish the image of the party and improve its visibility. He must bring all the political parties together and steward this formation. Congress under the presidency of Rahul was rejected as a weak and useless party, but the same party has got revitalised with new vision after he took out Bharat Jodo Yatra.
Experts recall Mulayam did not lose a day in putting the BJP government on the mat. He was shaken with the fear of being accused of “anti-Hindu” and “anti-national”. In contrast, since 2017, Akhilesh Yadav-led SP has been too defensive on both counts. The experts also say in the past the SP’s workers were always out on the streets fighting the misrule of the government, but after 2017, but in existing situation they appear to have retreated. (IPA Service)