Remember how Rajesh Khanna’s character Anand Babu sought solace in the company of Pushpa, played by Sharmila Tagore? Anand Babu was a rich man, whose wife was busy in socializing.
In love, heart dominates the brain, though for survival and sustenance, one has to listen to his brains. And a politician has to rely on brains, and that was what Mulayam Singh Yadav did before last elections. Gearing up for the elections, he needed a new team that could consolidate the anti-incumbency votes of which, the Muslim vote being a crucial one. Though the voting pattern largely was not on caste lines in 2012 elections, Muslim vote was the major deciding factor in the leads SP got. The decision to welcome back the estranged Azam Khan into the Samajwadi fold had paid dividends – for the Muslims voting for SP. In the preparations to bring the Azam – the great Khan, somewhere Amar Singh was rubbed the wrong way and after one month of drama, Amar singh was expelled along with the most beautiful face the party ever had – Jaya Prada.
It was Amar Singh, who was with Mulayam Singh, through thick and thin. The flair he had to solve political crises were only second to those of Pranab Mukherjee and Sharad Pawar in the current century. List of contributions by Amar Singh to the party would make him the second man in command, in the party – till Akhilesh entered. It was Amar Singh who bargains with the Congress to keep the hounds of CBI far from the Mulayam’s riches. It was Amar Singh who brought the much needed glamour to the party, when he got Jayaprada into the party fold.
And in many respects, Jayaprada might be the reason – though albeit non-sexiest ones, for the rift between Amar Singh and Azam Khan. With her glamour, she could easily sway the masses of Rampur to her and the seeds of insecurity have germinated in the already brusque mind of Azam Khan, who started doing all sorts of grotesque things. First, he worked hard against Jayaprada in 2009 elections, and failed miserably. And he was not the only Muslim face in Samajwadi Party, for there was Abu Azmi, with the fame and finances that only Mumbai can provide. Andin 2009, Mayawati was running the government with an iron fist and for the first time in decades, law and order was not one of the main troubles of the state.
Azam Khan expected the state voters to follow the neighbor state Bihar, while voting – and calculated Mayawati may win another term. However, unlike other politicians, his options were limited. Mayawati will never take him into her party. He will not choose BJP and it is meaning less to join Congress. So, in retrospect, his attacks on Jayaprada and Amar Singh that resulted in his expulsion were not a well thought out strategy.
But, time has the power to change – everyone and anyone!
When Mulayam Singh started preparing for the elections – he had no new plan to counter Mayawati, whose elephant was cruising at a great speed. Losing an elections will be a question of survival for the aging Yadav chieftain. The reins of the party were passed onto the next generation, and in the transition, even Amar Singh had to leave the party, despite Mulayam’s unwillingness. With him gone was the actress and Azam Khan returned as the party was vying to have the Muslim votes.
By the time the elections were conducted in 2012, expectations of the state voters were reaching the sky. Even Bihar was progressing under Nitish & BJP. People of Uttar Pradesh, especially the youth were in quest of a leader like Chandrababu Naidu or SM Krishna. It was simply his urban outlook that paid rich dividends to Akhilesh, apart from the hard work he put in to execute a cleverly drafted strategy.
Though Akhilesh started ruling the state with a bang on the development wave, people had expectations that were not seen since Lalu Prasad Yada became CM for the first time. And like Lalu, he failed, though for different reasons.
What Akhilesh Yadav inherited from his father was a party that was almost like an isotope, with all sections pulling the party in various directions – with only Mulayam being the cohesive force. No leader worth his salt in the party was ready to take orders from the young man. And Mulayam had lots of his family and people like Azam Khan to accommodate in the Government. Though his uncles were simply enjoying the power, despite the ramblings of Shivpal Yadav, he had no serious threat to his leadership.
However, Azam Khan, feeling he had offered the Muslim vote on a Silver plate to Akhilesh, never wasted any chance to undermine the authority of Akhilesh and the state had entered into the spiral that would collapse ultimately. The way Azam Khan functioned could only be parallel to the way Sanjay Gandhi functioned during emergency, when he thought he was more powerful than Indira Gandhi.
The way Azam Khan created controversies with his statements and actions, have created an impression that Akhilesh government was only for Muslims and it took one exiled leader of BJP to demonstrate ground reality to the self-congratulating leadership of Samajwadi party, when the party ruling the state won only five out of eighty seats.
Mulayam started missing his chief trouble-shooter and political manager who could have been valuable in dealing with the central government, ever since there was a change at the central. From the way Narendra Modi’s government functions, it was evident that Modi will be nice to any regional party, till NDA gains majority in Rajya Sabha. And, the way the other Yadav, Laoo had forged a leadership with his bete-noire to prevent BJP from coming into power had inspired him to have some new alliances. But, with whom he can ally? Certainly not with Mayawati. And an alliance with Congress may happen, but his current team has no negotiator. So, Amar Singh was the obvious choice. Now, with the entry of Amar Singh, if Azam Khan leaves, with him may go the Muslim votes, but it will prevent consolidation of Hindu votes against Samajwadis.
And the wily Amar Singh, meanwhile seems recuperated thoroughly and was behaving he never left the party. However, unlike the wife of Anand Babu, who sends her brother to deliver a threat to Pushpa, Azam Khan took the task of threatening – all by himself. And started doing what he was good at – giving vitriolic warnings to Amar Singh, with a sublime message to Mulayam Singh.
But, after the failure of Owaisi, who could open account in Maharashtra, but failed in Bihar, Azam Khan’s efficacy to deliver Muslim votes may not be too much, in comparison with the ¬networking skills of Amar Singh that are needed very much in the coming elections. Of course, Mulayam was counting on the compulsion of Muslims to vote for him, if he forms an alliance with Congress, as in the tri-party contest, Mayawati stands to lose, considering BJP is a force to reckon now, than it was in 2012.
In all probability, the triangular love-hate relationship Mulayam has with Amar Singh and Azam Khan may finally end the way ‘Amar Prem’ had ended. At the end, the heart wins. And when the instinct was backed by logic, it happens. After all Mulayam already told “Amar Singh Dal mein nahi, par Dil mein hain”.
Seems the days of Azam Khan are numbered. Now, whether he compromises on the issue of Amar Singh and continue in the party or opts out to do – what, even he doesn’t have an answer to this. At the best, he spoils the chances of Mulayam Singh, if he leaves the party. And he cannot even answer his people, who may argue with him – he was strengthening BJP, their main opposition. In all probability, Muslims may rally behind Mulayam singh & Congress alliance, irrespective of the position – in actual and literal sense – of Azam Khan. Despite his ramblings, Azam was a shrewd politician and needs the party more than it needs him now, especially with a BJP government in place, and thus may not choose to part ways with the Yadav clan.
And, this could be easily sensed by the maverick manager of politics. Amar Singh, on his part may restrict his attacks on Azam Khan only to television bites, without biting really. Realising the futility of wishing to replace Akhilesh with himself, Amar Sigh may settle to play the role he was famous for – that of playing power broker. And to prevent frictions in the party, he may simply opt to work out of the party’s frame that may give him more leverage in future negotiations.
In such case, BJP may have to labour very hard to win the state, for there is the ever supporting vote base for Mayawati that would be splitting vote, which makes the predictions ambiguous. BJP may wait till the Assam elections to decide course of action – but that would be too risky considering the uncertainty of Assam elections. They shall plan to have a candidate – for selecting one in Uttar Pradesh itself may take more than six months. And, how far Amit Shah had learnt of his limitations post losing Bihar elections will be the governing factor, while BJP decides strategy.
Come what may, till the elections are over in Uttar Pradesh next year, Amar Singh will be having lots of fun with scheduled and unscheduled negotiations and entertain us with his sound bites. Irrespective of Amar Singh joins SP or not, Azam Khan’s days are numbered. If Mulayam brings Amar and SP wins the elections, Azam is relegated to the corner. If next elections are fought by Akhilesh, without Amar and SP wins the elections, Akhilesh will ensure Azam remains in Rampur. And if SP loses the elections all that is left for Azam were corners of Rampur – indeed it is an Agni Pariksha for the man from Rampur! And, Azam may note that irrespective of the outcome of Agni Pariksha, Sita was exiled into the forest!
For Amar Singh, the businessman, nothing matters – for he remains what he is – entertaining us!