Following hectic political activity on Friday, the last day of 2016 is set for another round of frenzied politics in Uttar Pradesh on Saturday as expelled Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav is likely to play his cards.
To consolidate his supporters, both in the party and the legislature party, Akhilesh has called all party MLA’s to his official bungalow on Saturday morning.
Many are seeing this as an attempt to count the support he enjoys, now that he stands against his father and Samajwadi Party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav.
With 70-plus sitting legislators dropped from the party’s official candidate list for the 2017 assembly polls and many office bearers shown the door by the party in the past few weeks, Akhilesh was largely counting on these “rebels” to strengthen his position.
With Mulayam already spelling out that he would soon decide on the new chief minister, spin doctors of Akhilesh Yadav have braced for the battle, too.
Sources said he was already in touch with senior Congress and Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) leaders for possible support if it came to a floor test in the state assembly.
Unconfirmed reports suggest that Congress leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad has already “sent positive signals” to Akhilesh aides.
In a possible scenario of a majority of party leaders reclining themselves from Saturday’s meeting for fear of losing on the party symbol ‘cycle’, Akhilesh might also recommend dissolution of the assembly, a reliable source said.
There was also a talk of floating a new party by the Akhilesh faction, sources told IANS that “Akhilesh wants to fight to the finish to claim the SP name and the cycle symbol.”
The new party may either be named the Rashtriya Samajwadi Party (RSP) with a party symbol of a ‘banyan tree’ or the Progressive Samajwadi Party (PSP) with party symbol as ‘motorcycle’.
The Mulayam-Shivpal camp were also braced for any and all eventualities.
Late night meetings continued at the Vikramaditya Marg residence of the family patriarch and the party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav.
There were reports that if in the seesaw battle of power, the former wrestler saw “something more in the offing” he might remove Akhilesh and take over the reins of power himself, to exert control over the state government machinery.
With polls likely to be announced any time now, the Mulayam-Shivpal faction does not want to allow Akhilesh to stay in control of the government, as it “gives him a lot of power” in the bitter feud.
The Mulayam camp was also keeping a close watch on affiliations of party legislators and leaders.
“It is easy to extend background support to the Chief Minister, but to defy party line and do it openly is going to need quiet a bit of courage,” a senior minister averred while telling IANS that “most party rebels might fall in line after the tough decisions taken by ‘Netaji’ Mulayam Singh”.
The party also said that so far support for Akhilesh has come only from a “handful of youngsters, women of very least consequence in the party”.
“The show of strength for Akhilesh is for television cameras while the real people are rock solid behind Mulayam,” said a political observer.
The young turks in the party, however, said that at the “end of the show” Yadav junior was set to take up the majority share in the party pie.
Whatever be the case, the year ender in Uttar Pradesh was going to be an interesting one on Saturday.