U.P. curtain raiser
The pari-war within the Samajwadi Party between the father and son has some interesting sidelights, with Akhilesh’s supporters taking out a video depicting Mulayam and Shivpal with the popular Bollywood track in the background, Bapu, party ke liye tu haanikarak hai (father, you are dangerous for the party). The BJP, too, keen to cash in on the infighting, has come up with its own slogan for the elections: Haathi jam gaya jaade mein. Panja gaya bhaade mein. Cycle gayee kabaade mein. Ab bas kamal bacha akhade mein (the elephant, which is Mayawati’s slogan, has frozen in the winter; the Congress symbol—the hand—is of no use. The cycle—Akhilesh’s symbol—is also useless. Which leaves the lotus, the BJP’s symbol alone in the fray). Well, clearly these elections promise to be an interesting political drama.
Shravan Kumar or chief dissenter?
There is a lot of confusion among the BJP, for soon after demonetisation, there were rumours in Lutyens’ Delhi that a senior Cabinet minister had voiced his dipleasure at the move. It was whispered that this minister was Nitin Gadkari and given his proximity to the RSS, this led to conjecture that Gadkari was voicing the RSS view as well. But recently, while in Uttarakhand on 27 December, the Prime Minister singled out Nitin Gadkari for praise, calling him a modern day Shravan Kumar. This was on the occasion of laying the foundation stone for a strong network of roads that would make it possible for pilgrims to visit the Char Dhams, regardless of the weather. The PM was acknowleding Gadkari’s role in making this project possible. But the fact that he singled out the minister for praise also laid to rest some of the rumours that the two had a bitter falling out over demonetisation.
Gen Next Alliance
Given the falling out in the Samajwadi Party, there is now speculation of an alliance between the Congress and the Akhilesh faction of the SP. Just before the pari-war, Mulayam Singh Yadav had ruled out any alliance. But now all bets are off, especially given the recent bonhomie between Akhilesh and Rahul Gandhi. In fact, as far back in October when talks of a gathbandan were in the air, the Congress CM face for UP Sheila Dikshit had told NewsX that if there was an alliance, the Congress preferred Akhilesh over Mulayam. Well, certainly the Congress is hoping that this alliance does come through, as it will give it a fighting chance in UP. The Akhilesh-led SP, too, hopes that the Congress will help it unite any split in the Muslim vote that may happen because of the parivar split. But the Congress is hoping for at least 100 seats. Can Akhilesh afford to part with that many?