Uttar Pradesh cabinet minister Shivpal Yadav quit the government as well as his position as chief of Samajwadi Party’s state unit on Thursday, in what is seen as a blow to the party ahead of state elections due early next year.
The move signalled an attempt by Shivpal to distance himself from his nephew and chief minister Akhilesh with whom he has been involved in a bruising fight for influence. It was not immediately clear if a split in the party was in the offing, but sources said the turn of events meant Akhilesh might have emerged stronger for now.
Sources said Akhilesh rejected Shivpal’s resignation from the cabinet, but the party had made no decision yet on his offer to quit as its state chief.
As Shivpal came out of his house late on Thursday, his supporters who had gathered to meet the leader erupted in joy. “Go home. Go to bed. I too will sleep,” Shivpal told them. “Na soeyengey, na soney denge (We won’t sleep, we won’t let others sleep),” the crowd replied.
The late night development came after a day of separate meetings between party patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav, his brother Shivpal and Akhilesh raised hopes of a truce between the uncle and nephew.
Mulayam met with the two separately to ask them to end their feuding. A meeting between the uncle and nephew lasted barely 15 minutes at the Akhilesh’s office.
Two days ago, Akhilesh stripped Shivpal of three top departments after the chief minister himself was removed as the party’s state chief and Shivpal given the post. Their differences, a badly kept secret for years, had become public over the past months.
The party’s Rajya Sabha MP, Amar Singh’s, alleged role in the crisis also figured in discussions during the day, with Akhilesh’s second uncle Ramgopal Yadav and party leader Naresh Agarwal hinting at his “interference” in party matters.
Akhilesh Yadav had also mentioned about an “outsider” which is seen as a reference to Amar Singh, who is seen as close to Shivpal.
Earlier in the day, Akhilesh found support from Ramgopal, who said the party should have consulted the chief minister before sacking him as state party president.
“Differences do take place on some minor point and they can be resolved,” Ramgopal said.
“He (CM) should have been asked to resign and he would have tendered it. He could have been told that elections are coming and you continue as CM and the work of state president will be taken care of by him (Shivpal). Some misunderstanding has taken place and there is nothing more to it,” he said.
Shivpal also spoke to journalists in Lucknow and asserted that the party was not in any kind of trouble.
“Whoever is given responsibility, whatever it be...we have to follow that. The party is not in trouble. If I am given a responsibility, I will work to the fullest for it. Nobody can challenge netaji’s (Mulayam) decisions,” he said .
“In 2011, when I was the state president, back then I was removed and Akhilesh was given responsibility and I accepted that. Netaji took that decision carefully and after consideration surely.”
(with agency inputs)