The simmering Samajwadi Party family feud sprang out as chief minister Akhilesh Yadav stayed away when his father launched the party’s poll campaign on Wednesday from a stronghold of the erstwhile Quami Ekta Dal (QED).
Akhilesh had opposed the merger of the QED with his party but his father, SP patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav, and uncle Shivpal Yadav overruled the young chief minister later.
The move is considered one of the flashpoints of the family fight.
Mulayam justified the merger at the party rally in eastern Uttar Pradesh’s Ghazipur.
“Some people indulged in back-biting to weaken the party. They should give up the practice. They should understand that such tactics never build a strong image,” he said.
Gangster-turned-politician Mukhtar Ansari is one of the founder members of the party. The legislator is in an Agra jail now in connection with the alleged murder of BJP legislator Krishnanand Rai in 2005.
Despite Akhilesh’s opposition, the SP leadership favoured the merger apparently to check division of Muslim votes in the region.
Mulayam said he and brother Shivpal, the SP’s state unit president, supported the entry of Ansari’s siblings — Afzal and Sibgatullah — into the party to strengthen its base before the 2017 assembly polls.
Shivpal, who was behind the merger, reached the venue on Tuesday evening to ensure a large crowd.
Impressed with the turnout at the rally, Mulayam said: “It shows people like the Samajwadi Party (SP) and support it.”
But the rally was marred by a brawl when a group of supporters jostled to get close to the dais.
They held a placard, demanding recruitment in the police department.
When police were asked to control the situation, the men held up chairs and threw them around.
“Be disciplined. Don’t get involved in factionalism. This is not good for the health of the party,” Mulayam advised.
The SP won six out of seven assembly seats in Ghazipur district in the 2012 assembly elections. The QED’s Sibgatullah won the seventh seat, Mohammadabad.
Former parliamentarian Afzal Ansari described Mulayam as the hope of the minorities, the poor and the other backward classes (OBCs). He accused the BJP-led government at the Centre of implementing the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) agenda.
Also, he said the crowd at the SP rally at the RTI ground in Ghazipur was four times bigger than Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s public meeting at the same venue on November 14.