In Uttar Pradesh, as time nears for the next Lok Sabha polls, there is expected agitation in the Samajwadi Party, which for some time has been led by NextGen leader Akhilesh Yadav, a former state chief minister. Akhilesh became SP chief after proving convincingly that the overwhelming bulk of the party was with him, than with his father Mulayam Singh Yadav, SP's founder and patron, or with Shivpal Yadav, Mulayam's younger brother.
Typically, as now, moves by the two older Yadavs take shape to discomfit Akhilesh before the elections. The old guard are unhappy about their eclipse. At most, the moves of the senior Yadavs is likely to have a minor splitting effect and may help the BJP. The two just hope to teach Akhilesh a lesson. They don't understand that time has moved on.
At a time Akhilesh will be preparing to negotiate seats with BSP supremo Mayawati, his father and uncle would also be posturing to find a decent share for their nominees to boost factionalism within the influential SP.
It seems generational change pangs are taking a bigger toll in the SP than other parties. A somewhat similar story played out in the BJP in 2014 when the RSS decreed the sidelining of L.K. Advani and others of the old guard, consigning them to the meaningless "margdarshak mandal" to pave the way for Narendra Modi and others. But the old guard did resist for long, as is the case with the SP.
In the Congress, the old guard wasn’t exactly in a position to resist as none of them was a weighty public leader, though many had considerable experience. Rahul Gandhi, for all his shortcomings, was well ahead, not just due to the famous family name but also as he had travelled every bit of India in causes requiring protest, and perhaps also because he had been seen to be a reluctant politician, not a grasping one.
However, the old guard-new guard tussle hasn't quite ended in the Congress. But Mr Gandhi is cleverly trying to accommodate senior folk wherever he can. The old guard do carry factional clout in some places and Mr Gandhi's own interest lies in seeing that the party remains united.
The game is perhaps easier for the RJD in Bihar, where Lalu Prasad Yadav is in jail and his younger son Tejashwi has left a mark in his young career through forceful speaking and marshalling his wits well when he was deputy CM under Nitish Kumar when the two were together. No one in senior ranks poses a challenge.
Something similar is the case with the DMK's M.K. Stalin. His legendary father, the late M. Karunanidhi, practically ordained him heir apparent, cutting out older son Alagiri. If the brothers battle it out, it will be a factional fight, not a generational one. On the whole, though, a generational shift is evident in our parties.