Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav stripped his uncle, Shivpal Singh Yadav, of three key ministerial berths late on Tuesday, in signs of growing fissures within Uttar Pradesh’s ruling Samajwadi Party ahead of next year’s assembly elections.
Hours after SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav made Shivpal the party’s state unit chief in place of Akhilesh, the chief minister gave Shivpal the relatively less important social welfare portfolio, removing the senior leader from the PWD, irrigation and revenue and cooperative departments.
Akhilesh, who kept PWD with him, also decided to launch a scheme to repair and improve ‘highly damaged’ roads in the state.
Earlier in the day, Akhilesh removed chief secretary Deepak Singhal, considered close to Shivpal, and appointed 1983 batch IAS officer Rahul Bhatnagar. Akhilesh had on Monday removed two ministers -- Gayatri Prasad Prajapati and Raj Kishore Singh, who faced corruption charges.
The churning in the party and bureaucracy set the grapevine on fire in the poll-bound state with unconfirmed reports suggesting that Shivpal is mulling options of resigning from the government.
Shivpal’s appointment as the state party chief was considered Mulayam’s way of striking a balance between his son and his brother ahead of the elections.
The SP is expected to face a tough fight from the BJP and the resurgent Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) led by Mayawati.
Now, speculations were rife that more ministers might be sacked to spruce up the image of the Akhilesh government.
The chief minister had earlier refused to merge a party floated by jailed gangster Mukhtar Ansari with the SP, a proposal floated by Shivpal. Mulayam had recently ticked off Akhilesh for allegedly humiliating Shivpal.