Dynastic successions where high power, wealth and prestige are at stake is always a complicated affair. A time traveller could ask Shah Jahan as he wistfully peered at the Taj from his confinement in the Agra fort what it felt like. Indira Gandhi had a time of it too, split her party so did Jayalalithaa who was bodily attacked by MGR’s wife after his death. High drama is never far behind, but what we’re watching happen in UP is a blockbuster affair. Today an expelled and back again Akhilesh called a meeting of his supporters where he had himself declared party chief and chief ministerial candidate as his supporters taunted his father Mulayam to take early retirement and send confidante Amar Singh packing. His supporters then took over physically took over the party office. That’s the definition of a bloodless coup if there was ever one. A snubbed Mulayam Singh has promised to cancel it all, insisting that he’s still the Netaji and pups and proxies don’t stand a chance. But the momentum, like the future seems to be with Akhilesh. Ordinarily, such bloodshed at the very top would bode ill for a party weeks before an election. But after 5 years in power, Akhilesh’s revolt gives his party a neat opportunity to blame all his failures on brother Shivpal and present Akhilesh as the hope of a young UP armed with laptops and smart phones if not bicycles. The BJP thinks it’s all scripted…is it? And if it is can Akhilesh present a challenge to Modi who’s already announced a sweetshop full of treats yesterday? That’s the question in a state with hundred and fifty million voters that defines the politics of North India.
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