LUCKNOW: Samajwadi party leader Mulayam Singh never tires of blaming all Uttar Pradesh’s ills on to his son Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav. To the point where many in state government can now be heard saying, off the record of course, “if Netaji (Mulayam SIngh) would have given the CM a free hand, the party could today well be in a winning position.”

The Samajwadi party that was limping along in the last state elections, raced ahead of the others soon after Akhilesh Yadav got on to his bicycle to tour the state. Young, fresh, he managed to strike instant rapport with the villagers with the strong organisational base of the SP getting electrified in the process. After the party came to power as a result, it was widely thought that the father would become the chief minister and allow his greenhorn son to cut his teeth as it were as the president of the party. But Mulayam Singh had other plans and insisted that the reluctant Akhilesh become the CM, while he tried to prepare for what he thought would be a larger role for him in Delhi.

A reluctant Akhilesh took over the helm, and almost immediately ran into conflict with his uncles who enjoy considerable clout in both government and party affairs. His father did not take his side in these squabbles, and even as the young CM was struggling to cope with governing the huge state without experience, he had to also contend with the hurdles his family placed before him. For instance the communal violence in Muzaffarnagar in UP spread into the villages with the state government being blamed by the media and the journalists for not being able to check the spread. At that time Mulayam Singh openly criticised his son to visiting delegations, maintaining that he was not being able to cope as the bureaucracy was not listening to him.

Now that the elections are again around the corner, there was some movement in the party to bring the young Chief Minister back into the thick of affairs. But it ended as quickly as it began. As party sources pointed out, one of the first indications of this was the meeting between uncle Shivpal Yadav who met the CM, and emerged from the 90 minute meeting saying all is well. This was seen as a significant patch up considering the public differences between the two over the merging of Qaumi Ekta Dal of underworld don Mukhtar Ansari with the Samajwadi party. This was being pushed by Shivpal Yadav, and was objected to by Akhilesh Yadav. The merger was cancelled, leading to bad blood between uncle and nephew that this meeting was supposed to dispel.

But within days Mulayam Singh moved in, and replaced his son as the Samajwadi chief with Shivpal Yadav. For once, Akhilesh Yadav was not willing to be run over, and responded by removing his uncle from the cabinet, and taking away all the portfolios. This now appears to be a full blown war, and will certainly not augre well for the Samajwadi in the elections that are just around the corner now.

Differences between the nephew and his uncles have dogged the heels of the government, over appointments, departmental decisions, and more lately on action against land grabbers. On all these Mulayam Singh has been siding with his brothers, as against his son and the Chief Minister leading party leaders to speculate about a split within.

Meanwhile Mulayam Singh continues to rule the roost in terms of appointments and larger decisions. As a senior Opposition leader in Lucknow said, “when it comes to blame, he is quick to point at the CM, but when it comes to exerting authority he insists he is the boss.”