NEW DELHI/ LUCKNOW: In the latest twist in the Yadav family battle ahead of the Uttar Pradesh polls, Mulayam Singh Yadav has taken a 180-degree turn and said he will not just campaign for his Samajwadi Party but also the Congress; days ago, he had gone public with his deep resentment at the alliance forged by his son, Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav.
“He is my son after all,” Mulayam Singh said, asked by a reporter if Akhilesh Yadav had his blessings.
The Samajwadi patriarch also said he would start campaigning for his party “after the 9th”.
Would he campaign for the Congress as well, asked NDTV. The 77-year-old replied with another question – “They are our ally so why won’t I do it?”
On January 22, when Akhilesh Yadav unveiled the Samajwadi Party’s manifesto for the February-March election in the state, his father’s absence was striking.
The same evening, Akhilesh Yadav posted on Facebook a photograph of his father holding up a copy of the manifesto.
A day later, a sulking Mulayam Singh hit out at the Samajwadi-Congress alliance – announced jointly by Akhilesh Yadav and Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi, and threatened that he would not campaign for it.
“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,” Mulayam Singh had said.
At the start of this year, Akhilesh Yadav, backed by a majority of his party members, was recognised legally as the leader of party that Mulayam Singh founded. The Election Commission decided that the 43-year-old junior Yadav had the rights to use the Samajwadi name and symbol of the cycle.
The “coup” marked an escalation after months of bickering in which Mulayam Singh, egged on by younger brother Shivpal Yadav, repeatedly undermined Akhilesh Yadav, not allowing him any say in crucial party decisions like the selection of poll candidates.
Akhilesh Yadav then released his own list of candidates, after which both factions took the fight to the Election Commission.