Former Samajwadi Party leader Amar Singh's sharing a dais with SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav here on Tuesday after a gap of more than four years has virtually put the entire party on a boil. The body language of the two leaders and the affinity the two exchanged on stage at the inauguration of the Janeshwar Mishra Park here has set off a chain reaction in the party along with strong speculation that the rebel Thakur leader who was expelled in February 2010, could be back with a bang soon.
Though Amar Singh himself declared that his Lucknow visit in response to Mulayam's "personal" invitation was "not political but purely personal", keen political watchers would not miss the import of the timing of his visit. Even Amar-baiters in the SP admit that the relation of trust and understanding Mulayam shares with Amar Singh is manifold better than his relations even with his own brothers Shivpal Yadav and Ram Gopal Yadav.
The effects of Amar Singh's visit on the SP's internal power axis did not take long to present themselves. Singh's arch rival Azam Khan refused to attend the ceremony and even poured out his bitterness before the media soon after the event.
"Amar Singh's and my worlds are poles apart. I am a political man," he said when asked if his absence from the event was due to Amar Singh. "Last time, when I left the party, I didn't go anywhere else. This time also, if I am expelled, I won't join any party," he said, adding: "My relations with Mulayam Singh ji and his family are above politics."
Azam Khan had left the party before the 2009 Lok Sabha election precisely because of his tussle with Amar Singh who managed to get the election ticket for Jaya Prada from Rampur, Azam's home town, despite the latter's stiff resistance. He agreed to return to the party only if Amar Singh was expelled. Mulayam fulfilled that condition to bring back Azam in early 2010.
It's indeed a piquant position for several senior leaders, particularly Thakurs, who had distanced themselves from Amar Singh and even spoken ill of him when he had been expelled from the party. Party general secretary and MP Ram Gopal Yadav, who had orchestrated Singh's ouster, would be particularly at his wits end after the recent developments.
Interestingly, at Tuesday's function, neither UP CM Akhilesh Yadav nor Mulayam even mentioned Amar Singh's presence on stage in their entire speech. For his part, Singh, when confronted by the media with questions about if he could the SP said: "I don't talk about possibilities." He said politics was not his priority at the moment. "At present, I am only concerned about my health and that is my first priority."
Meanwhile, prominent Thakur leaders of the SP, including cabinet ministers like Raghuraj Pratap Singh 'Raja Bhaiyya', Om Prakash Singh and Arvind Singh Gope, held a secret meeting on Tuesday evening to discuss how to deal with the new situation where a national level Thakur leader was all set to regain his key position in the party.