Despite a public show of bonhomie among the Samajwadi Party’s ruling family, the party’s state unit president Shivpal Yadav took another swipe at his nephew and chief minister Akhilesh Yadav.
“How many times will you humiliate me? You removed me twice but I have also struggled,” he said at the party’s silver jubilee year celebrations that began Saturday morning at the sprawling Janeshwar Mishra Park in Lucknow.
The question was clearly directed at his nephew. Still smarting after being sacked from the cabinet, he went on to say people who had done nothing for the party were today enjoying the perks of power.
Earlier, Akhilesh touched Shivpal’s feet on the stage as the celebrations began. But Shivpal, who began his address by praising Akhilesh for having done commendable work, soon resorted to some plain-speak as he ticked off his nephew for “humiliating” him twice.
Giving an account of the work he did as minister in the past four and a half years in the government, Shivpal said he knew that some officials deliberately tried to put hurdles in the work being done by him.
“I don’t want to be CM,” he asserted.
“Even if you ask for my blood, I will give it,” he said. “I will make whatever sacrifice you want me to. I will bear all the humiliation. But I will not allow humiliation of netaji (SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav).”
Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad Yadav played peacemaker to bring Akhilesh and Shivpal together on stage after the two had been embroiled in a bitter turf war for over a month.
Earlier, SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav arrived with Rashtriya Lok Dal president Ajit Singh.
Former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda, who heads the Janata Dal (Secular), arrived at the venue long with Lalu Prasad and Rajya Sabha member Ram Jethmalani. Janata-Dal (United) leader Sharad Yadav and the Indian National Lok Dal’s Abhay Chautala were also there.
Thousands of Samajwadi Party workers danced to the tune of the song ‘Yeh janta hai Akhilesh ke saath (people are with Akhilesh Yadav)’ sung by a folk singer.
Sacked minister Narad Rai, who is an SP MLA from Ballia, was also on the stage and gave away Rs 5,000 as a reward to the singer.
The entire canopied event area (which is no less than four football fields in size) was packed with SP supporters.
On Friday night, RJD chief Lalu Prasad expressed confidence about the ‘mahagathbandhan’ (grand alliance) forming the next government in UP.
“We will chase out Modi out of UP like we did in Bihar,” he said. Replying to a query whether ‘mahagathbandhan’ would talk to BSP chief Mayawati, Lalu said, “I have not come to talk to her.”
JD(U)’s Sharad Yadav also advocated a grand alliance for the UP polls.