Not just Uttar Pradesh, focus on capturing power in Delhi as well. This was the advice Samajwadi Party founder Mulayam Singh Yadav gave to party workers and leaders as he entered the 81st year of his life on Thursday.
While his public appearances have decreased over the past one year, party workers still look up to the Yadav patriarch as a guiding light and a potential prime ministerial candidate, especially as the crucial 2019 general election approaches.
Mr. Yadav has in the past made his PM aspirations known to all. “Your eyes must be set on Delhi. Delhi is everything, keep that in mind… You must resolve to create such a situation that no government can be formed in Delhi without the SP,” he told a gathering at the party office on the occasion of his birthday.
The SP founder even asked party workers to organise public meetings for him at the local level so that he could join in the campaign.
Mr. Yadav reflected on his career and how the SP formed a government in Uttar Pradesh four times and became part of Central governments twice despite being underestimated as a “party of one district”.
However, he said that “some leaders” broke away from the party after creating strife and causing damage, and now it was up to the youth to unite and strengthen the party ahead of 2019.
Mr. Yadav did not name any leader, though it could be speculated if he was referring to his younger brother Shivpal Singh Yadav, who after a long family feud, especially with his nephew Akhilesh Yadav, formed a separate outfit recently. Mr. Akhilesh and Mr. Shivpal, however, have been locked in an ego battle to claim Mr. Yadav’s political legacy. The patron has so far enacted a balancing game.
While SP leaders cut a cake and celebrated his birthday at the party headquarters, Mr. Akhilesh, along with his daughter and son, called upon the patriarch to wish him before heading out to campaign in poll-bound Madhya Pradesh. “He taught us all to walk on Gandhiji’s path of truth and non-violence and to follow Lohiaji’s principle that in order to defeat the evil, we must first recognise it, and that trust is the biggest asset of human relationships,” Mr. Akhilesh tweeted.