Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Mulayam Singh Yadav will hold a meeting of party legislators on Monday to tamp down a raging power tussle between his brother and son that threatens to jeopardize the party’s chances in the upcoming Uttar Pradesh assembly polls.
Sources say an “angry” Mulayam may take some tough decisions to stave off what looks like an imminent split in Uttar Pradesh’s ruling party as one faction backs his son and chief minister Akhilesh Yadav and the old guard behind brother and state president Shivpal Yadav.
Hundreds of workers have gathered outside the party office with both factions shouting slogans against each other. Many were seen trying to enter the premises but were pushed back by a ring of policemen.
The crucial meeting comes after a day of fast-paced developments on Sunday with a slew of tit-for-tat sackings.
In the morning, Akhilesh threw out his uncle Shivpal and three other “pro-Amar Singh” ministers from his team. By evening, Mulayam had dismissed his cousin and SP general secretary Ramgopal Yadav, who has backed Akhilesh in the family feud, from the party for six years.
Full coverage: Yadav family feud
Mulayam, who remained silent during the day, told reporters in the evening that “Whatever I have to say, I will say tomorrow.” He made the remarks after a meeting with Shivpal, Om Prakash Singh, senior minister and spokeperson Ambika Chaudhary, and MLC Ashu Malik, and some others.
The crisis couldn’t have come at a worse time for the SP as it battles anti-incumbency, resurgent opposition parties and concerns over deteriorating law and order just months before the state polls.
If things come to a head, Mulayam could name himself or Shivpal as the chief minister, sources said.
On Sunday, without naming anyone, the CM said he was sacking four ministers. Ahead of the meeting, Akhilesh had conveyed to governor Ram Naik his decision to boot out cabinet ministers Shivpal, Narad Rai and Om Prakash Singh and minister of state Shadab Fatima.
“…whosoever goes with him (Amar Singh), goes out of the party,” legislator Vijay Mishra, quoted Akhilesh as saying. The CM said he had “no intention of splitting the party”. “I am Netaji’s son. I will always be with him.”
Part of the SP crisis is attributed to Akhilesh’s sour ties with Amar Singh, a close aide of his father who returned to the party recently and was nominated to the Rajya Sabha.
The CM also removed actor-turned-politician Jaya Prada, known to be close to Singh, from the Uttar Pradesh film development council.
This is the second time in a month that Akhilesh had acted against Shivpal. He stripped Shivpal of his portfolios but gave them back after Mulayam managed an uneasy truce between his feuding son and brother.
But, the peace plan now lays in tatters.
Armed with a Mulayam order, Shivpal announced Ramgopal’s ouster at a press conference after he accused the senior party leader of colluding with the BJP and meeting its leaders thrice.
“Ramgopal is doing this to save his son in the Yadav Singh scam and the CM (is) not realising as to who his real well-wisher is. Ramgopal has always conspired and misled Akhilesh,” Shivpal said, referring to a tainted chief engineer of Noida authority, a charge denied by Ramgopal.
Before Akhilesh announced his decision to throw out the ministers, Ramgopal, the party’s chief strategist, attacked the Shivpal camp through an open letter.
“We want that chief minister Akhilesh Yadav’s leadership see the next government in UP; they want he loses come what may,” said Ramgopal, who is in Mumbai.
He reaffirmed support for Akhilesh after his ouster.
“Netaji is surrounded by demonic powers...In the ongoing crusade (dharm-yudh), I am with Akhilesh Yadav,” he said. urging the CM’s supporters to fight without fear.