The power struggle in the Samajwadi Party’s first family flared up again on Wednesday with Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav giving a tit-for-tat response to his father and party chief’s list of candidates for next year’s state elections.
Akhilesh sacked the husband-wife duo of Sandeep and Surabhi Shukla, known to be loyalists of his uncle Shivpal, from key positions in state corporations late at night.
The move came hours after he was snubbed by SP president Mulayam Singh who again sided with brother Shivpal Yadav in the family feud that has been ongoing for six months now.
Mulayam has not been an impartial referee as his son and brother battle it out for the control of the party ahead of the assembly election due early next year.
Wednesday was no different.
The list of candidates announced by Mulayam, a former wrestler, overrode the one sent in by Akhilesh, who was further humiliated when his father told media that the party would go into the election without a CM candidate.
Akhilesh was being seen as an obvious choice for the top job but that was not to be. “We don’t have such a tradition (naming CM candidate) in our party. MLAs will decide after polls,” Mulayam told the media.
The CM sacked Surabhi Shukla from the post of vice chairperson of Awas Vikas Parishad, while her husband Sandeep was removed as advisor of Rajkiya Nirman Nigam. The decision was announced ahead of an emergency meeting Akhilesh had called of his legislators on Thursday morning.
Candidates list causes more friction
With the candidates list, Shivpal, the party’s state president, had won the round fair and square, and perhaps even the bout.
Shivpal has been declaring candidates since March – by Monday, he had named 175 of them — even as Akhilesh demanded a say in ticket distribution.
Two days ago, Akhilesh sent to Mulayam his list of candidates for all the 403 seats. Mulayam chose Shivpal’s list and added to his and his brother’s choice the names of his picks.
The message was not lost — 10 ministers sacked by Akhilesh over the last few months figure in the list of 325 candidates.
Narad Rai, Om Prakash Singh, Shadab Fatima, Shivpal Singh Yadav, Raj Kishore Singh, Raja Aridaman Singh, Shiv Kumar Beria, Yogesh Pratap Singh, Manoj Paras, and Ambika Chowdhary have been spending time with Shivpal. They have been open in their defiance of Akhilesh and it paid off.
In April, Akhilesh, who was then the state party chief as well, threw Rampal Yadav out of the party and two “illegal” buildings owned by him were razed. He was sent to jail.
Shivpal, who replaced Akhilesh as SP state chief by Mulayam in September, brought Rampal back two days ago. And on Wednesday, Mulayam asked him to defend his Sitapur seat.
While Mulayam revived the political fortunes of all those banished by Akhilesh, there was no such reversal of luck for those who incurred Shivpal’s wrath.
Three of Akhilesh’s ministers and loyalists – Ayodhya MLA Tej Narain Pandey, expelled from the party by Shivpal, Arvind Singh ‘Gope’ and Ram Gobind Chaudhary – have been left out.
Mulayam, who said he chose to ignore the “lists” in favour of “winnability”, confirmed ticket to criminal-politician Atiq Ahmed, who has challenged Akhilesh’s authority.
A similar blow was dealt to the young leader when Mulayam and Shivpal chose to ignore his reservations and joined hands with criminal-turned-politician Mukhtar Ansari.
In the bruising family battle, Akhilesh cut a lonely figure on Wednesday. But is it the end of the Yadav clan dangal? No one knows.