The occasion was the 50th death anniversary of socialist leader Ram Manohar Lohia, who is described by the SP as the “guiding light” of the party that Akhilesh Yadav has been leading since January this year, consigning his father to a mentorship role.
Relations between the father and son have remained frosty between the father and son since then. A riled Mulayam Yadav, 77, did not participate in the UP elections in which his son suffered a massive loss at the BJP’s hands. He has also periodically taken swipes at his son for betraying his trust and skipped last week’s big party meet that re-elected Akhilesh Yadav as national president, this time for five years.
On Wednesday, none of this bitterness was on public display. After paying floral tributes together at Lohia’s statue, Akhilesh Yadav greeted his father by touching his father’s feet and chatted amid slogan shouting by party workers. Later, they also appeared in the same frame for the cameras and travelled together in a golf cart.
The early signs of an end to the tug-of-war for power in the Samajwadi Party’s First Family had come last month when Akhilesh Yadav went to meet his father at home, reportedly to invite him to the SP’s national convention in Agra. That private meeting was the first between the father and son in several months.
Asked about his relations with his father today, Akhilesh Yadav appeared to suggest that Mulayam was only seeking to correct him. Like any father should.
“If a father glosses over his son’s mistakes, the child may lose way,” the former Uttar Chief Minister told reporters. He also underlined that there was nothing unusual in his many differences of opinion with his father. “There is fight of ideologies in every family,” Mr Yadav junior said.
This one, however, had driven the party perilously close to a split and the tussle had reached the Election Commission in Delhi too. The party survived intact because the SP patriarch backed out at the last moment.
Ahead of the party convention too, Mulayam Yadav put off an announcement to form a new party “as of now” though leaders close to him had spoken about the plan, reportedly because it would have cast a shadow on his son’s re-appointment. He has, however, earlier taken jabs at his son for not restoring the leadership of the party after the Uttar Pradesh elections as promised by Akhilesh Yadav earlier.