Mr Mulayam Singh, Where Have You Disappeared To?
NEW DELHI: Dear Mulayam Singhji,
See you often sitting on the first row in the Lok Sabha, a seat that should not have been yours given the size of your party in Parliament, but was given to you specially by the ruling BJP. And thought that it was time to say hello, and ask where the old socialist war horse has disappeared to.
More so, as Subramanian Swamy and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad have gone on the offensive about building the Ram Mandir this year, before the elections in Uttar Pradesh. Ved Sachchan, VHP of course, said that they had held about 100 awareness camps on the construction of the temple, and were preparing to hold at least another 10,000 in the state. Pravin Togadia said that the government should pass a law in Parliament allowing the construction of the temple at Ayodhya.Swamy said, “it’s my target to get construction work started at Ram Mandir Ayodhya by the end of this year (2016).” Union Minister Kalraj Mishra, your old friend from Lucknow, said, that construction of the temple remains a top priority with the BJP.
And now a group of sants and sadhus have announced from Ujjain that the construction of the temple will begin on November 9. The VHP has followed this up with a December 31 deadline with its leader Champat Rai being quoted in the media as saying, "Construction will start before December 31, and we won't wait for the Supreme Court verdict... We kept our patience, but won't wait beyond December."
So what do you think about all this Mulayam Singhji. You seem to have lost your voice over the last couple of years. And seem a pale shadow of the man who carved a little place for himself with bravado, often misplaced of course, of the parinda-par-nahin-maar-payega variety.
You said little, and did nothing, during the Muzaffarabad violence that displaced 100s of innocent people.
You quietly watched VHP cadres carrying bricks for the construction of the temple to Ayodhya.
Any number of communal incidents, big and small, have taken place across UP under your silent watch, even as you encourage Azam Khan who your son is rightly allergic to, to polarise polity every now and again.
You do not travel, except perhaps for extravaganzas in your constituency, to areas affected by violence. You do not meet the people hurt and wounded by communal conflict.
Why Mulayam Singhji. The BJP itself says it is because you are terrified of cases of fraud being opened against you. Your are fearful that your days with Amar Singh might bring accountability. Perhaps they know better, more so as just recently you intervened in Parliament on the all important issue of cow slaughter. You were very concerned about the bovine population, that you said, was dwindling. "It is an important matter...People steal cows, cut them and sell it in the US...The number is falling," you said. You sounded passionate, far more so than when you talk about the victims of violence in UP, and it was unfortunate perhaps that as Speaker Sumitra Mahajan and Congress President Sonia Gandhi sitting next to you had to remind you that the question relating to livestock was over!
Now some say that you will not be in the lead in the forthcoming Assembly elections. And that finally, perhaps, you will allow your son to take the lead. Seems unlikely given the conventional patriarchal structure of your family, and the very many uncles who override Akhilesh even on small decisions. But the point is that neither under him, nor you, is the party making any waves as it seems to have lost its old moorings, and is unable to pick up new. Earlier the lawlessness associated with the Samajwadi party was countered with your seeming commitment to secularism. Slowly this turned from secularism to minority appeasement as the hard right called it, epitomised by the Azam Khan variety. And this has since turned into a ‘neither here nor there’ positioning as communal vitriol spreads, with lawlessness dominating.
You have travelled a long way since the days when you fell out with former colleague and Prime Minister VP Singh for not letting you arrest BJP leader LK Advani for his controversial rath yatra, and letting Lalu Prasad Yadav do the honours in Bihar. You have changed many bedfellows since and today, despite a large floundering organisation in UP, find it difficult to convince anyone---not even your own party members---of any resemblance between you and your old self.
The elections are eight months or so away. The BJP has started campaigning. The Congress has sent its publicist to the strate to try and determine strategy. The Janata Dal(U) leader Nitish Kumar has started his campaign from Varanasi, and he along with Lalu Yadav might prove formidable for you in parts of eastern UP. More so as he has the ability to say it as it, something that you don’t probably even remember as you obfuscate facts, excuse inaction, and mumble your way through non-governance.
You said nothing really on ghar wapsi, on love jihad, or on the harassment and violence that followed. You are a senior leader, you know best what you should or should not do and so will leave you with one question: are the parindas allowed to fly now?
A Well Wisher of Sorts