The Samajwadi Party’s Muslim heavyweight, Azam Khan, played the peacemaker on Saturday to pull the party away from splitting because of a bitter family feud.
Party patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav’s trusted lieutenant has been maintaining equidistance from the warring father and son. But he stepped in when Mulayam expelled his son, chief minister Akhilesh Yadav, for six years on Friday and pushed the 25-year-old political outfit to the verge of a split.
Khan shuttled between the homes of the SP chief and his son for most of Saturday, trying to convince them to sink their differences and keep the party united.
Similar advice came from another mediator, former Bihar chief minister Lalu Prasad, whose youngest daughter is engaged to Mulayam’s grandnephew. He spoke to the SP national president as well as the chief minister, urging them to patch up to stop communal forces from winning the 2017 state elections.
Khan reached Mulayam’s 5 Vikramaditya Marg address around 9.30am and remained there for more than an hour.
“Netaji has built the party and I consider him its bhagavan (god). He is a father as well as the party chief…What problem can a father have with his son? Only that he should meet him and consider his advice that is for his well-being” the senior minister later said.
After meeting the party chief, Khan headed for Akhilesh’s 5 Kalidas Marg home and spoke to the 43-year-old chief minister for half-an-hour.
Akhilesh reportedly became emotional during the conversation, when he was told that his father had said he would have never made him the chief minister had he been against him.
Khan again drove to Mulayam’s home around noon, with messages from the son.
Thereafter, sources said Mulayam asked for his brother and state unit chief Shivpal Yadav, who is known to be leading the anti-Akhilesh camp within the party.
The thaw was anti-climatic as Akhilesh too joined the old guards later, and an emotional father hugged his son after he touched his feet in respect. After a brief closed-door meeting between the three Yadavs and Khan, orders were issued to withdraw the expulsions with immediate effect.
When he came out 5 Vikramaditya Marg, Khan was smiling.
“Samajwadi Party is one and, at present, everything is going right and will remain the same,” he said.
(with HTC Patna and agency inputs)