New Delhi:The legendary Mulayam Singh Yadav, whose guts and guile sustained for around five decades an image of a relentless wrestler, appeared forlorn and miserable as he reached the Election Commission here to play his last card.
The soldiers who accompanied Mulayam in what looked like his final battle carried tell-tale signs of his ruin: Shivpal Yadav, his much reviled younger brother, Amar Singh, a constant companion of controversy, and Jaya Prada, whose status in the Samajwadi Party is a riddle. No one else from the party Mulayam built with his blood and toil or the big extended family he so carefully nurtured.
The more famous Jaya (Bachchan), who was sent to the Rajya Sabha by Mulayam, today wrapped up a holiday with husband Amitabh Bachchan and family friends Anil and Tina Ambani at a resort near Rishikesh.
Mulayam is known for obliging innumerable people; the oligarchy he created was supposed to be his eternal strength. But all the senior politicians, including those who were in Parliament solely because of his blessings, preferred to side with his son Akhilesh.
Only one of the old colleagues, Ambika Chowdhary, chose to stay with him - because Akhilesh had blocked his entry into his camp.
Mulayam knows the party has gone out of his control and that it is impossible to confront Akhilesh on the ground. Shivpal has the muscle but not the goodwill to draw people's support.
Mulayam staked claim to the cycle, the party symbol, and told the commission the decisions taken at the national convention called by his cousin Ram Gopal Yadav were illegal. The Samajwadi constitution indeed is clear that only the party's national president can call the meeting.
Despite such a ground, it is a stiff race against time. The Akhilesh camp will meet the commission tomorrow. As the election has to be announced now, the commission may freeze the cycle symbol till the dispute is settled.
With the entire party machinery under his control, Akhilesh is in a position to contest the election with a new symbol.
Mulayam is fighting a lonely battle but there is talk of "external help", which has kept the pot boiling so far.