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Akhilesh has my blessings, I will campaign: Mulayam

Mulayam was categorical in his praise for his son, and there was evidence of paternal pride.

, ET Bureau|
Last Updated: Jan 20, 2017, 12.41 AM IST
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Mulayam also claimed SP’s core support hasn’t been affected by the intra-party battle, singling out Muslim support as an example.
Mulayam also claimed SP’s core support hasn’t been affected by the intra-party battle, singling out Muslim support as an example.
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LUCKNOW: In what appears to be the first major conciliatory gesture, Samajwadi Party patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav has said his son Akhilesh has his blessings and that all is well in the family now.

Speaking to ET in an exclusive interview, his first media interaction since war broke out in the Yadav family, Mulayam was insistent that the bruising conflict was over. The father’s efforts at rapprochement are a critical factor in Uttar Pradesh elections, where SP and Bharatiya Janata Party are widely seen as the two strongest contenders for power. The seven phase polls begin on February 11.

Votes will be counted on March 13. “Ab sab kuch theek hai… Mera Akhilesh aur baaki sabko pura ashirwad hai ki woh phir se sarkar banaye (Everything’s alright now… Akhilesh and others have my blessings to form the government again)... My face is on the posters of SP but I will also campaign extensively,” Mulayam told ET.

UP Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav took firm control of the party after the Election Commission ruled last week that SP’s poll symbol, bicycle, will be awarded to the Akhilesh faction. There has been speculation about Mulayam’s future course of action. In the hour long interaction with ET at his Lucknow residence, the SP patriarch appeared to put such speculation to rest.

Mulayam was categorical in his praise for his son, and there was evidence of paternal pride. Talking about Akhilesh’s performance, he said: “Jitna badhiya kar sakta tha utna kiya usne (Akhilesh has performed as well as was possible)… His intentions are always to do good work... Aakhir beta toh hai hi (After all he is my son).”

Mulayam also claimed SP’s core support hasn’t been affected by the intra-party battle, singling out Muslim support as an example.
“So many people who had never come here earlier have told me in the past few days they are with me. They have told me that people are misleading you that no one is with you… we are with you,” Mulayam said.

“The SP government’s biggest success is that it has removed fear from the minds of Muslims. Muslims tell me it is because of me they have confidence to live. They tell me how can there be any other leader for us except you,” the SP patriarch told ET.

He was dismissive of Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati’s attempt to woo Muslim voters by fielding a large number of candidates from the minority community: “Woh to hamesha deti thi... woh zamana doosra tha… ab Musalmaan sab samajhta hai (She has always done that. But times have changed. Muslims understand everything now).”

On the SP-Congress tieup, Mulayam expectedly said the partnership will be good for UP, adding that SP keeps its word, unlike some other parties. “Hamari party zabaan deti hai toh tikti hai. Yeh jo sauda karne wale kuch log hote hain, hum waise nahi hain. Hum sauda nahi karte.

Poochh lo kisi se bhi (When our party gives its word, it sticks to it. We aren’t traders or businessmen like some people. Ask anyone).”

Targeting SP’s main rival in these polls, BJP, Mulayam said “an environment of fear is being created by BJP”, and that the party is “forgetting” the teachings of Deendayal Upadhyaya. “Congress should not have abandoned Mahatma Gandhi and BJP should not have abandoned Deendayal Upadhyaya,” he said.

The Modi government’s demonetisation move also came in for expected criticism. “The shocking thing is that the process of demonetisation is not getting over. There are new rules every single day. They should have just left things the way they were earlier,” Mulayam said.
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