Embattled Samajwadi Party (SP) patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav reaffirmed on Sunday that he, not his son, is the party president and there’s no dispute in Uttar Pradesh’s ruling political outfit.
The assertion came a day ahead of his proposed meeting with the election commission over the party’s election symbol — a bicycle — that has become the latest object of conflict in a bitter family feud for power.
“I am the national president of SP and Akhilesh is the chief minister of UP,” he told reporters at his home in the national capital.
The 77-year-old socialist veteran, who formed the SP in 1992, is in the middle of an intense power struggle with he and brother Shivpal Yadav on one side, while son Akhilesh Yadav and cousin Ram Gopal Yadav on the other.
The Akhilesh faction dislodged Mulayam from the president’s post and designated him “marg darshak”, or mentor, during a convention called by Ram Gopal, the party’s general secretary, on January 1. The party’s old guard expelled both Akhilesh and Ram Gopal on December 30, but took them back a day later in a reconciliatory move that looked like an attempt to keep the SP united before crucial state polls this February and March.
But the decision to replace the party boss with his 43-year-old son triggered the inevitable as both factions approached the Election Commission to claim the election symbol ahead of the elections.
Mulayam stressed that he is still the boss, saying Ram Gopal’s national convention in Lucknow was “illegal” as he and Akhilesh were thrown out of the party before that.
He said brother Shivpal continues to be the president of the party’s Uttar Pradesh unit.
He assured supporters in Lucknow that the SP would retain power for a second term.
“Hamari party me koi vivad nahi hai (There is no dispute in our party),” he said.
The party’s poll symbol faces the threat of being frozen in case the Election Commission is unable to decide which of the two factions commands majority in the party organisation.
Ram Gopal had submitted affidavits of 4,716 delegates, claiming an overwhelming support for Akhilesh.
But Mulayam is expected to challenge the rival camp’s claim and request the poll panel to check the “authenticity and legality” of the documents.
His long-time friend and the party’s Rajya Sabha MP, Amar Singh, said the signatures of support were “forged and their authenticity is doubtful”.
News agency ANI quoted Singh as saying that he was ready to resign and Shivpal would not contest elections if that keeps the SP and the family united.
“Har tarah ka tyaag balidaan dene ko hum tayyar hain, taaki parivaar toote nahin aur ek rahe (We are ready to give any sacrifice to keep the family united),” he said.