- Saifai warrior faces shaky ground
Nobody imagined that the belligerent Samajwadi Party shall one day appear cowed down - that too before a non-fighter. The bluff of aggression has been called, and the call of rebellion is getting conveyed to the portals of 10 Janpath. All through this, the dimensions and ethos of the Socialism that started from Saifai (Etawah) have changed inevitably. The red-cap Socialism initiated by Ram Manohar Lohia, the socialism of legislator Natthu Singh from Karhal (Mainpuri), the socialism of 'Commander' Arjun Singh Bhadauria, Chaudhary Saligram and Chaudhary Ram Swaroop of Kuiya village, the socialism that was the essence of Etawah's local newspaper Desh Dharm started by veteran journalist Devi Dayal Dube - all have been left far behind by the present-day Samajwadi Party that appears doomed to suffer an ideological vacuum. In any case, the process to dispense with the dreams of Lohia had started in bits and pieces in 1980 itself, but the rot came to the surface only recently when the tycoon-Thakur Amar Singh voiced the words of rebellion after the ignominious defeat at Firozabad.
In the mean time, Socialism was taking an off-and-on ride on Subrata Roy Sahara's aircraft and the Cycle was nowhere to be found. The glorious cycle-borne Samajwadis were recalled only before elections. The decline of the socialist character has completed a full circle and a new innings has to start afresh. But then whose innings are we talking about - Prof. Ram Gopal Yadav, Akhilesh, Shivpal or Prateek? This untimely dilemma is stopping the Samajwadi struggle from coming out on the streets, and is keeping the ignominy confined to within closed doors. The party that once had the penchant to obstruct the passage to power of others now faces the same obstructions, albeit created by their own ilk. For instance, what kind of socialism was it that led Ram Singh Shakya to lay down a caste-based calculation to ensure the defeat of fellow socialist leader 'Commander' Arjun Singh Bhadauria from Etawah Lok Sabha seat in 1980? In the 90s, sending the late debutant Kanshi Ram of the BSP to the Lok Sabha from Etawah in a manner of cutting one's nose to spite the face was intended to announce the party's arrival on the political firmament in a big way, followed by a coalition government with BSP. And today, the same BSP and its chief Mayawati have ensured that the Samajwadi Party is close to extinction in Uttar Pradesh.
The socialism that started from Saifai has slowly but surely grown richer, only to acquire the face of an urban neo-feudalism. Samajwadi Party's socialism has got weakened but its economics has grown stronger. The political aces have been played. When bandit queen Phoolan Devi was brought into politics, it brought to the fore the Samajwadi party's anti-Thakur image since Phoolan Devi carried the charge of mass killing of Thakurs. The subsequent mysterious killing of Phoolan Devi in Delhi, the equally mysterious advent of Amar Singh in the power structure of Samajwadi Party, and then, the mysterious killing of entire family members of advocate Vijay Singh Sengar including himself in Etawah gave an indication of changing social and moral values in the party.
Convenience and comfort are increasingly becoming important for the party cadres who have lost the will and passion for struggle. The equations of caste seem to have lost their importance. The fragmentation could have been stalled only if Mulayam Singh Yadav had challenged the BSP, but he is very cleverly avoiding any such conflict. Instead of actually waging a political battle, he simply wants to be seen as doing so. Now not even a section of the press is standing with him in building his image because now he does not hold the strings of the discretionary fund he had with him.
The 'M-Y' (Muslim-Yadav) combination that had been formed on the debris of Babi Masjid, seems to have given way on this anniversary of the infamous demolition. Allahabad's Atiq Ahamad, Rampur's Azam Khan, Balrampur's Rizwan Zaheer have been thrown out like used packs. Kurmi leader Beni Prasad Verma, Lodhi leader Ganga Charan Rajput and Dhani Ram Verma have jumped off the sinking ship. It would appear that Mulayam Singh Yadav wanted only flag-bearers of his clout rather than self-respecting political activists. For this reason the Samajwadi Party is in a state of utter chaos, and everyone appears defeated even before the actual war has begun.
In between, there have been many transitions on the political scene. In 1984 there was a deadly attack on Mulayam Singh Yadav at Maikhera village near Karhal in Mainpuri. The then Karhal MLA Natthu Singh Yadav had stood like a rock with Mulayam. Even otherwise, credit goes to Natthu Singh for having brought Mulayam into active politics. That was the time when Mulayam too was overawed by the political and criminal clout of Balram Singh Yadav. Gradually Mulayam emerged as the only leader and other bastions of Yadav power were marginalised. Those being Natthu Singh's son Subhash Yadav in Karhal, Darshan Singh Yadav in Etawah, Ramsewak 'Gangapura', Ashok Yadav in Shikohabad, Latoori Singh in Etah and then his son Avadh Pal Yadav, D P Yadav in Bulandshahar, Umakant and Ramakant Yadav in Azamgarh and Mitrasen Yadav in Faizabad. Veteran Janeshwar Mishra - once revered as 'Chhote Lohia' - got marginalized. But unknown to the supremo, these very tricks soon gave way to the party's decline. Yadav politics was overshadowed by family politics, and now Samajwadi Party is no more a political party but is perceived as a business firm 'Mulayam Singh and Sons (P) Ltd' and 'Mulayam Singh Brothers (P) Ltd.' Yadavs often ask why is it that the daughters-in-laws of this so-called first family are from non-Yadav families. Will the Yadavs of Saifai accept Prateek also as a Yadav scion like Akhilesh? Has the Samajwadi Partys aged with Mulayam Singh or some force is still left in the youthful leadership of Akhilesh? And, what kind of revolution has been brought about by the likes of Jayaprada? Questions are many, answers are awaited.
(Published in By-Line National Weekly News Magazine (Hindi & English) - in January 16, 2010 Issue)