Why is Akhilesh Yadav happy at sister-in-law Aparna Yadav joining the BJP?
Bharatiya Janata Party had often targeted Aparna and her husband’s wealth and especially his Rs 5-Crore Lamborghini although she publicly and consistently supported BJP’s policies
Even as Mulayam Singh Yadav’s daughter-in-law Aparna Yadav jumped ship and joined BJP on Wednesday, curiously Akhilesh Yadav appeared unperturbed, even relieved if not happy. He welcomed his sister-in-law’s move and said lightly that he was happy at BJP accepting whiffs of socialism.
Analysts explain his exuberance by pointing out that he had got rid of a dissenter in the family, an ideological opponent in the party and another claimant of Mulayam’s legacy. BJP, on the other hand, has often targeted Aparna and her husband Pratik in the past and it would seem she has carried a heavy baggage to the BJP that the party would be hard put to defend or to carry.
Aparna’s decision to join the BJP hasn’t come as a surprise to too many people. What seems to have surprised them is her late decision. Political observers in Uttar Pradesh point out that she had visited the Gorakhanath Temple in 2017 itself and met Yogi Adityanath. After that, she frequently and publicly spoke in favour of BJP’s policies on most issues.
A vocal supporter of the abrogation of Article 370 pertaining to the erstwhile state of Jammu & Kashmir, Citizenship Amendment Act, and the National Register for Citizens, Aparna has often embarrassed the Samajwadi Party and Akhilesh Yadav in the past. She also claimed to have donated Rs 11 lakhs for the construction of Ram Temple and supported PM Narendra Modi on several occasions, defying the party line.
Those with access to the Mulayam family claim that Akhilesh Yadav and his wife Dimple never felt comfortable with Aparna’s presence in the party. “A coterie of Shivpal Yadav, Mulayam’s second wife Sadhana Gupta Yadav, and Aparna Bisht Yadav were once considered ‘holy cows’ in the Mulayam’s family and in Samajwadi Party. Remarkably, the party she has joined now, BJP frequently leveled charges of corruption against her, her husband Pratik and mother-in-law, Sadhana Gupta.
Pratik’s Rs 5 crore-Lamborghini car remained at the core of BJP IT-cell’s campaign against the Samajwadi Party for several months. Kanha Upvan, a 54-acre shelter home for stray animals run by Aparna’s NGO, was termed a centre of corruption by BJP leaders. The closeness of the family trio, Aparna-Sadhna-Prateek with Gayatri Prasad Prajapati, the mining minister in the SP government headed by Akhilesh Yadav was also commented upon and heavily criticised by BJP leaders. It was claimed that Deepak Singhal, the then Chief Secretary of UP and Gayatri Prajapati didn’t report to the then chief minister but to Mulayam and Aparna. Obviously, with Aparna now in the party, BJP has to swallow its own words.
Meanwhile, Akhilesh congratulated Aparna for joining BJP. He can now induct Rita Bahuguna Joshi, another turncoat politician seeking entry and asking for a party ticket for her son Mayank Joshi. Interestingly, Rita wants to ignite her son’s political career from the Lucknow Cantonment Assembly seat, where she defeated Aparna Yadav in the 2017 elections. One of the reasons quoted behind Aparna’s departure from the Samajwadi Party is denial of ticket to her from Lucknow Cantt.
“Though we haven’t declared all our candidates yet, party ticket depends upon internal survey reports and preference of voters”, said Akhilesh Yadav when asked whether he denied ticket to Aparna.
Why is Akhilesh a more relieved man now? Akhilesh was never on good terms with Sadhana. Late Amar Singh, the family confidante and former party leader after leaving Samajwadi Party had claimed, “Akhilesh wasn’t happy when Mulayam decided to marry Sadhana Gupta, a party worker then.”
Though Amar Singh managed to ease tension between the father and son, the induction of Sadhana and her son Pratik, born from her first husband Chandra Prakash Gupta, never went so smoothly. “Even she tried to install Prateek as an heir to Mulayam Singh’s political legacy when Akhilesh raised the flag of mutiny in 2017 and gained control of the party’, claim party insiders.
With Aparna gone, following the exit of Shivpal Yadav in 2017, Akhilesh now has a free hand in party affairs. There is no potential challenger of Mulayam’s legacy in the party at least for now. With Aparna has gone a suitcase full of charges of nepotism and corruption. Also, the coterie within the party loyal to Sadhana, Prateek and Aparna has been left in the lurch. And what has BJP gained? A family member of Mulayam Singh Yadav.
While the Godi media went overboard, political analysts do not see her as a big catch. It’s because Aparna has always been close to BJPs ideology. Some say Aparna’s father Arvind Singh Bisht is a distant relative of Yogi Adityanath, who was known as Ajay Singh Bisht before announcing Sanyas. She remained at loggerheads with Akhilesh and Dimple so her departure from Samajwadi camp doesn’t carry any surprise element.
And what has BJP lost? An opportunity to target a Rs 5 crore Lamborghini, a prosperous son of Mulayam, property amassed by Sadhana Gupta and Prateek and ‘Samajwadi Capitalism’.
(The writer is an independent journalist)