The many mistakes of Muzaffarnagar
Is frustration over the Muslim vote slipping away from him, before the elections where he saw himself becoming the prime minister, leading Mulayam Singh Yadav and consequently the Uttar Pradesh government into a series of blunders over Muzaffarnagar?
That's the question being asked in Lucknow following the order by the state government forcibly evicting the riot victims and razing their relief camps, leaving people looking for new shelters in the biting cold.
While the government completely miscalculated on controlling the riots initially, by now, any government worth its salt and particularly one as attuned to Muslim sentiments as the Samajwadi Party's should have got its act together on Muzaffarnagar.
Instead, it has stumbled through inadequate relief, callous remarks, denials, bad-mouthing of other leaders, and obvious falsehoods, ensuring that the issue shows no signs of dying down even as other parties raise their pitch for polls.
The growing disappointment with the Akhilesh Yadav government has been compounded by the bizarre behaviour of its mentor and the father of the chief minister, Mulayam.
The political old-timer has not bothered to show up at the relief camps even once, though, as has been pointed out, he is a regular at the cultural fest at native Saifai.
Instead, he has been targeting other political leaders visiting the camps, accusing all of doing politics over the riots. If he called Lalu Prasad a stooge, who licked the Congress high command's feet, he has compared vice-president Rahul Gandhi — not a friend, but certainly not a foe — to a thief sneaking up to camps at night. He was also heard claiming that there are no riot victims in the camp anymore, only "conspirators" of opposition parties, a remark that earned him criticism not only from opposition parties but also from several Muslim clerics.