How to douse a Yadav war

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Uttar Pradesh has been witnessing a rumbling rift in the ruling Samajwadi Party. And with some classic Mulayamspeak, the party patriarch seems to have secured his succession plan.

The high-voltage drama played out in Lucknow, between various members of the Yadav family that runs not only the Samajwadi Party (SP) but the affairs of India’s most densely populated State — Uttar Pradesh — made for riveting television. The sound and fury of a party meeting on Monday was so effective that it drowned out the subtext of this family saga. For most, it appeared that the party was on the verge of splitting, that papa Mulayam Singh Yadav was, as a genuine patriarch should, standing by his brother Shivpal Yadav and not with his son, Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav. The son and obvious heir was being chastised, the father standing by a long-term friend Amar Singh despite his obvious unpopularity with the party cadre.

What remained in the detritus, however, points to where the cost can be counted and the winner declared. For much of Monday morning, Akhilesh Yadav’s speech — demonstrating his struggle, as Chief Minister of the State, to assert his authority and yet respect his father and his leader’s wishes — rang out in a convincing manner. His uncle, Shivpal Yadav’s action, of snatching the mike from in front of him and accusing him of lying, persuaded the watching public both in the hall and those following the meeting on television of everything that the Chief Minister had said of being bullied by overbearing relatives into giving in on matters of governance.

Mulayam Singh Yadav, he of the wily ways and inconsistent record of staying true to a declared public posture (one needn’t look further back than 2008 when he ditched the Left Front to support the Indo-U.S. nuclear deal and save the UPA government and the 2013 Presidential election when he promised support to Mamata Banerjee’s candidate only to later recant) couched his words in a bubble-wrap of rhetoric and obscure references.

He criticised his son, declared loyalty to Amar Singh — his friend who he said had saved him from jail — but refused to endorse any disciplinary action against Akhilesh Yadav as demanded by Shivpal Yadav. To the latter’s question that Mulayam Singh Yadav “empower” him to act against “indiscipline in the party”, there was only silence.

Source: Wikipedia

>The Yadava community was probably formed of four clans, being the Abhira, Andhaka, Vrishni, and Satvatas, who all worshipped Krishna. According to Mahabharata legend, the Kaurava queen Gandhari, angered by Krishna's role in the rout of the Kauravas in the Great War, curses his clan to decimation. And true to form, the Yadavas are said to have wiped themselves out in a drunken fratricidal battle.

The parables of Mahabharata can be easily applied to any family feud in India. But this is just ridiculous.

The next day, at a press conference held at the SP’s party headquarters in Lucknow, the message was even clearer for those who understood “Mulayamspeak”. When asked about the fate of the Chief Minister after the tumultuous meeting the previous day, he asked those sitting beside him whether anyone had any “ aapatti ” or objections to Akhilesh continuing as CM. The answer was a no, with one Shivpal loyalist and former minister feeling so aggrieved at being publicly checkmated that he slunk off to lick his wounds in private.

While Shivpal Yadav has been despatched to Delhi to speak to former allies and get busy with organisational work at the sufferance of Mulayam Singh Yadav, his cousin, Professor Ram Gopal Yadav, who is seen as being part of the Akhilesh Yadav camp but having arrogated the role of “running” the strategy of that group, is also out in the cold. Goaded into writing a letter challenging Mulayam Singh Yadav, he has attracted disciplinary action. Akhilesh, the man whose cause he had been espousing, remains in his chair and spent Thursday evening in a fairly convivial way with his father and the recipients of the Yash Bharati award given out by his government to achievers from the State. For good measure, he even tweeted the pictures out lest anyone dispute just how convivial the evening was.

A cold calculation of the morning after therefore shows both the Yadav father and son very much in command of party and government. The likely challengers, the “uncles”, Shivpal, Ram Gopal and even Amar Singh are reduced in stature ahead of an election that the party appears reconciled to not winning, and a succession plan effected.

The parables of the Mahabharata, so easily applied to any family feud in India, came alive on TV screens on Monday and through the week in Lucknow a visible and thorough application of saama (political conciliation), daana (political sacrifice), bheda (threat or ultimatum) and danda (an outright fight) by the Yadav father and son. A political passion play that continues to confound even as it fascinates.

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