Mulayam's U-turn: Shrewd strategy or political compulsions?

Lucknow, Aug 13: The wily Yadav from Uttar Pradesh has done it once again. Never known for his political loyalties and infamous for being a political grasshopper, Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Mulayam Singh Yadav's rebuke to the Congress has taken even his loyalists here by surprise.

Breaking ranks with the Congress, which was spearheading a face-off with the Narendra Modi government at the centre and stalling the functioning of parliament Mulayam, his close aides say, has done so both for political reasons and "uncomfortabe compulsions."

While the wrestler-turned-teacher-turned-leader has taken many a U-turn in the past, this time his volte face has come as a big breather to the beseiged Modi government.

Mulayam's U-turn:A political compulsion?

A close aide who did not want to be named said that while Mulayam wanted to come across as a "serious Democrat" after the Congress continued effort to steal a march by leading the protests, Mulayam had for now gone 'mulayam' (soft) on the government for some compulsions that may go beyond politics.

One major reason, associates say, is the deepening crisis on the law and order front in his home state Uttar Pradesh, where his son Akhilesh Yadav is leading the government. Faced with problems from all sides, Yadav senior is in no mood to "open too many fronts," with the centre, opine insiders at the 5, Vikramaditya Marg house of the SP chief, also known as the 'Kothi' to the faithful.

Additionally, there are many infrastructure related issues like roads, highways, power that need a sync between the state and Delhi. The chief minister has has often complained in the recent past that the centre was not expediting permissions on many vital projects and thus putting roadblocks in the state's development.

After much rancour and delay, the centre had recently okayed the ambitious Lucknow Metro Rail project, thus paving way for investments something which is close to Akhilesh Yadav's heart. Other than this, the ongoing tussle between senior SP leaders and the Raj Bhawan is something which worries the elder Yadav a lot.

With Governor Ram Naik, a former union petroleum minister, holding back approval on many issues like nominated list of members of legislative council and the appointment of Lokayukta, Mulayam needs the centre to cajole the BJP veteran to mellow down, sources say.

The 'deal clincher', however, seems to be the CBI probe into the former Noida chief engineer Yadav Singh, considered close to the Yadavs. The tainted engineer was not only reinstated after being suspended but also promoted by the Akhilesh Yadav government. The Allahabad High Court has ordered the CBI to probe him.

The SP government recently filed an SLP in the Supreme Court to reject the CBI probe but was snubbed. Sources in the BJP say they would use the Yadav Singh case "proactively and electorally" in days to come, much to the chagrin of the state's ruling party. "Our stand on the Yadav Singh matter is consistent and we will not relent on the issue" state BJP spokesman Vijay Bahadur Pathak told IANS.

Strategists of the party, however, said they were "game to a carrot and stick policy" towards the Samajwadi Party. With a huge mandate in the Lok Sabha, the BJP wants to publicly maintain a distance from the Samajwadi Party, while behind the scenes it needs the SP to help it pass vital legislations in parliament.

Congress leaders say the bonhomie between the saffron camp and the SP will be short lived as neither "side trusts the other". But for now, the ruling party at the centre will grasp the hand stretched out by the veteran leader.


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