Mulayam supports Modi as PM: Fall of some of India’s major ‘secular’ politicians
New Delhi, Feb 14: Wednesday, February 13, saw a unique development in India politics. Senior leader Mulayam Singh Yadav endorsed Narendra Modi as his prime ministerial preference ahead of the Lok Sabha election this year, leaving quite a few in the Opposition ranks startled.
Modi will never become PM, Mulayam had said in 2014
The senior Samajwadi Party (SP) leader, who lost control of his party to son Akhilesh Yadav in a ugly family spat a few years ago, took a complete U-turn from his pre-2014 LS election when he said that Modi would never become the prime minister.
This time, he blessed Modi to become the prime minister for the second term.
One is not surprised to see Mulayam's words for the man has always been unpredictable with his twists and turns - ask Mayawati, Sonia Gandhi or Mamata Banerjee.
But what his 180-degree turn vis-à-vis Modi on Wednesday suggested is that the man doesn't aim to hurt Modi any more but the Opposition, may be out of a zeal to avenge the humiliation he faced in his own party a few years ago.
The former chief minister of UP, who will turn 80 this year, well understands that his ambition of becoming the prime minister is only a wishful thinking now and wants to play more a spoilsport now for the anti-Modi front which includes his own party led by his son.
Mulayam perhaps is also trying to show his statesman-like face but given his political background with those U-turns at crunch moments leaving the allies red-faced, not many will be convinced.
Or does he want the exact opposite to his prediction happen one more time, just like it had happened in 2014?
Fall of the 'secular and social empowerment' brand of politics?
It is difficult to read Mulayam's mind but if one sees closely the political journey two of India's most prominent 'secular' politicians - Mulayam of UP and Nitish Kumar of Bihar -- have covered in the last five years, one gets to sense a new pattern emerging in Indian politics.
And it is about the fading of a minority-and-social equality oriented brand of politics in the Hindi heartland that always opposed the Hindutva brand as its main thrust to capture the alternative vote-bank.
The year 2017 saw big lows for both Mulayam and Nitish
The year 2017 marked an important milestone in the political careers of both the seasoned leaders of the Hindi heartland who, even till the last general election, considered themselves as messiahs of secular politics in this country.
Nitish had pulled out of the NDA ahead of the 2014 LS election while Mulayam attacked Modi at every given opportunity, accusing him of rioting, mistreating women and spreading false propaganda about the 'Gujarat model'.
The two leaders had joined the Third Front hoping that it would emerge as a driving force bigger than either of the two national parties. But everybody saw what had happened thereafter. Both the SP and JD(U) led by Nitish were humbled in their own territory.
In 2017, Mulayam suffered perhaps the biggest blow to his political career by losing the home battle to son Akhilesh while Nitish found himself at the receiving end by holding hands with old friend Lalu Prasad and eventually left the Grand Alliance with the RJD and Congress to return to the BJP's company.
Mulayam and Nitish lost their identities for diverse reasons
The two leaders - icons of the politics of empowerment through a strategy of social justice - found themselves losing their identities - really or symbolically - and have to tune themselves more to the deflected glory of Modi's leadership today.
The surrender of these two big leaders of Indian politics who till five years ago were known for their voices in national politics, to the new-age realities is certainly new.
It doesn't matter whether Congress president agrees or not with Mulayam's support for Modi as the PM again because that support is not going to make any relevance in national politics.
The likes of Mulayam and Nitish have, in a way, met dead ends in their respective political journeys and can only aspire to remain afloat by speaking words that are more stunning than substantial.