Overwhelming support among Samajwadi Party workers and legislators for Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav and a backlash against the president of the party’s state unit, Shivpal Yadav, has driven home the point about who is the winner in the popularity stakes in the party.
Except for a few old guards, most MLAs have openly backed the 43-year-old Akhilesh by attending his meeting in the state capital on Saturday before SP founder Mulayam Singh Yadav revoked his son’s expulsion in less than 24 hours.
Most MLAs from Bundelkhand, Kanpur, Kannauj, Auraiya, Mainpuri, Farrukhabad, Kanpur Dehat and Unnao attended the CM’s meeting.
In Etawah, the three party MLAs, including Shivpal Yadav, did not attend Akhilesh’s meeting, sources said.
In Bareilly and Badaun, six of eight sitting MLAs sided with Akhilesh
Sitting minister Vijay Bahadur Pal said the CM was immensely popular among the youth and has a proven track record. “Both Netaji and Akhileshji have worked to carry the socialist ideology far and under CM, the state has progressed. I will contest in the name of Akhilesh,” he said.
In Agra, SP workers came out on the streets in support of Akhilesh on Saturday morning.
“Kuchh ghalat logon ke karan ye sab ho raha hai (some wrong people are creating problems for the party). There is a communication gap due to which some decisions have gone against the party,” SP spokesman CP Rai told HT.
A member of the national executive of the Samajwadi Mahila Sabha, Monica Naaz Khan resigned from her post and tore posters of Shivpal Yadav.
“A conspiracy is being hatched against the CM who is a leader with a clean image. We will not tolerate any action against him. Akhilesh is the only leader who can steer the party to victory in assembly election,” said Khan.
Following Akhilesh’s expulsion on Friday, party workers of the Bareilly unit had started sending in their resignations. “Akhilesh Yadav took UP on the path of development. People only know him because of the work he did for the people. One cannot abandon such a leader,” said Zafar Beg, head of SP’s Bareilly (city) unit.
Across Bareilly, Jalabad, Shahjahanpur, Akhilesh’s supporters burned effigies of Shivpal and blocked the state highway to register their protest.
On social media too, netizens backed the chief minister and trolled Shivpal for his alleged role in Akhilesh’s expulsion.
“Akhilesh Bhaiyya aap akele nahin, hum sab aapke saath hain (Akhilesh you are not alone, we all are with you),” said a Facebook post which remained the most popular message on the platform’s page titled ‘Akhilesh Yadav fan club’.
The post got over 4,000 likes and more than 3,500 comments.
A twitter handle, #Iamwithakhilesh, also remained popular and was joined by many supporters.