Kishor Yadav, a farmer in central Uttar Pradesh’s Jaswantnagar, does not mince words when talking about Shivpal Singh Yadav. “When the crop is ready, chaff is separated from it. The Samajwadi Party (SP) is that like that crop from which Shivpal should be weeded out,” he says.
The farmer’s strong words regarding Shivpal, the Jaswantnagar MLA and brother of SP founder Mulayam Singh Yadav, are echoed by many in the region despite his formidable clout. There are no fence-sitters in this SP bastion on the feud in UP’s first family that pitched chief minister Akhilesh Yadav against uncle Shivpal.
Kishor gets provoked when asked if Shivpal is right in wanting his due after nurturing the party all these years with elder brother Mulayam. “He did nothing except walk along, holding his brother’s hand. And that is what he does even now. He has been an MLA four times. Still, he cannot win a single election on his own. He needs his brother to address a rally here to galvanise voters,” he says.
According to many in the region who share Kishor’s view, Shivpal should accept his diminishing relevance with humility following Akhilesh taking charge of the party.
Rakesh Yadav, who runs a construction material shop in Dumila, less than a km from the UP first family’s Saifai residence, says, “Akhilesh party ko saaf karna chahte hain. Is baat se Shivpal ko takleef hai (Akhilesh wants to cleanse the party and Shivpal is pained to see this happening).”
Praveen Yadav, who owns a paan kiosk next to Rakesh’s shop, says, “Shivpal ko ye sab shobha nahi deta. Izaat kamai jaati hai, maangi nahi jaati (All this does not suit Shivpal. You earn respect, you don’t ask for it),” he says. “Ye rajneetik manthan hai bhaiyya, thodi uthal-puthal toh hogi (This is political churning. Some turbulence is bound to happen).”
But Shivpal is not entirely without backers. Shankar Singh, who makes a living from three mobile towers installed on the rooftop of his three-storied house in Jaswantnagar, is pragmatic in his opinion about Shivpal. “Let people say what they have to. But it is also true that he has done good work as an MLA. If work done by a legislator is a parameter, then Shivpal scores eight on ten.”