Indian politics is in interesting times with foes turning friends, a grand alliance in the making and arch-rivals praising each other. The latest in the series is Samajwadi Party (SP) leader Mulayam Singh Yadav’s new-found love for Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The SP patriach’s speech in Parliament on Wednesday hailing PM Modi, virtually took everyone by surpsrise. It was more shocking as it came soon after his son and former UP chief minister Akhilesh Yadav, who was on his way to Allahabad, was stopped by the Yogi Adityanath government at the Lucknow airport. The matter hogged huge lime light.
Though praising one's rivals is not unheard of in politics, Mulayam's praise for PM Modi has a different undertone. It shows his unhappiness and disappointment with Akhilesh's move of forging an alliance with Mayawati's BSP. Mulayam had not only turned down the alliance with the BSP, but also clearly stated that the opposition, would not be able to get a majority like the BJP.
There are many reasons for Mulayam's pain. First, he was 'dethroned' by his son. Then came the alliance between the SP and the BSP. The SP had maintained a distance from the BSP for long. Akhilesh diluted that stand, too, and joined hands with the BSP. In addition, Akhilesh's policies also led to straining of ties between the party and Shivpal Yadav, Mulayam's brother. Shivpal was also Mulayam's right-hand man at one point of time.
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Meanwhile, Mulayam's praise for PM Modi came as a big jolt to the SP-BSP alliance. Some SP leaders said, on condition of anonymity, that Mulayam was hurt because of Akhilesh's policies regarding the SP, a party raised by the former with much labour. They said the senior leader has been sidelined in the party.
Second, the CBI inquiry into the disproportionate assets of Mulayam and his family members had been virtually "lying in cold storage". The CBI had probed Mulayam and his family members on Income Tax returns filed between 2000 and 2005, and had found that their real income was more than the declared one. The CBI has not even filed any petition in the court to close this case, too, which means the case is very much "alive" against Mulayam. However, interestingly, there has not been much headway into it in the past five years.
Also, it is to be noted that this was not for the first time that Mulayam has shown his penchant for Modi. Earlier, he had invited him for the marriage of his nephew Tej Pratap. Modi attended the wedding in Mulayam’s village Saifai. In 2017, Mulayam had attended UP Chief Minister Adityanath’s oath-taking ceremony and had sat beside the prime minister on the podium.