Three uncles of chief minister Akhilesh Yadav have been at the centre of his political life in the last five years, including the period of the Samajwadi Party family feud.
Having taken over the party after the feud, Akhilesh has stepped out of father Mulayam Singh Yadav’s shadow to emerge as a leader in his own right. There has also been a sea change in the status of the three uncles who have governed his political life to such an extent. So, where does the trio — ‘chacha’ Shivpal Yadav, ‘uncle’ Amar Singh and ‘favourite uncle’ Ramgopal Yadav — stand today, and what will be their future? A look:
Shivpal Singh Yadav (Status: Cut down to size)
The Yadav family feud has its origin in a statement made by Shivpal on August 14, 2016, wherein he threatened to resign because “a conspiracy was being hatched against him”. The next day, during an Independence Day event held at the party headquarters in Lucknow, Mulayam Singh Yadav – who was then the party supremo – sided with Shivpal. However, it is believed that Shivpal has been unhappy since March 2012, when Akhilesh was appointed chief minister at Ramgopal’s insistence. Insiders say he covertly wanted to become the chief minister, but kept mooting Mulayam’s name for appearances’ sake.
Shivpal, who vociferously threatened to quit on August 14, did not do so even after Akhilesh sacked him from the post of state unit chief, omitted him from the party’s list of star campaigners, and relegated him only to his constituency – Jaswant Nagar. Reduced to being a political loner, he had nobody other than Mulayam as his ‘star campaigner’.
After Shivpal filed his nomination on a Samajwadi Party ticket from Jaswant Nagar on January 31, he threatened to float a new party after the elections. But from what Mulayam said on February 6, and Akhilesh’s comment the next day, it seems as if Shivpal will stay put in the party.
“He (Shivpal) did not mean what he had said. He must have said it in anger,” said Mulayam. His son, on the other hand, wondered how Shivpal “will be in the government if he floats a new party” – hinting magnanimously that his estranged uncle would be inducted in his cabinet if the party comes to power again.
Amar Singh (Status: Persona non grata)
Amar Singh was thrown out of the party, and even worked against it ahead of the Samajwadi Party’s victory in the 2012 assembly election. However, owing to his rapport with Shivpal and Mulayam, he was re-inducted into the party last year. Amar sided with the Mulayam-Shivpal team when the family feud became intense, and all the while, Mulayam kept upgrading his position in the Samajwadi ranks. He was first made a Rajya Sabha member, then the party’s national general secretary and, finally, a parliamentary board member.
Amar held his ground till Akhilesh expelled him from the party on January 1.
Though Amar initially made some remarks on Akhilesh, he has now retreated into complete silence.
The political future of the veteran politician, who once said that he “hates to be ignored” at a press conference with Shivpal, seems very uncertain. Akhilesh, however, appears to be softening his stance on him – at least in public. Though the chief minister had vowed never to call Amar ‘uncle’ again, he began addressing him with the title again a few weeks ago. “You will see that uncle loves us all,” said Akhilesh.
Ramgopal Yadav (Status: Chanakya forever)
Like Shivpal, Ramgopal has been with Mulayam for four decades now. Known as the party’s chief strategist, Ramgopal assumed the role of Chanakya for Akhilesh during the family feud. He is described as the chief architect of the coup that resulted in Akhilesh taking the reins of the party.
Meanwhile, Mulayam is yet to show any sign of forgiving Ramgopal. He doesn’t even take his brother’s name anymore.
The former party chief had sacked him from the national general secretary’s post in December-January. However, since the party is now in Akhilesh’s control, Ramgopal continues to occupy the position.
Ramgopal seems to be keeping a low profile. He is not seen with anyone, be it Akhilesh or any of the top leaders in his camp. But he is strategising Akhilesh’s road ahead, just as he did for Mulayam over the decades.
Ramgopal is indispensable, and will probably remain so, for the Samajwadi Party’s future.