After a brief lull, the Samajwadi Party is at war again.
Several youth leaders close to chief minister Akhilesh Yadav resigned on Monday hours after party state president Shivpal Yadav threw out seven young leaders, including three MLCs, from the party for indiscipline, sources said, signalling fresh trouble for the ruling party in Uttar Pradesh, which goes to the polls in early 2017.
The new round of hostilities between the young chief minister and his uncle broke out two days after party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav forged an uneasy truce between the two feuding family members.
Shivpal’s move against party’s young is bound to hurt Akhilesh, who was actively involved with the youth wing and played a vital role in its expansion.
Members of legislative council Sunil Singh Sajan, Anand Bhadauria and Sanjay Lathar were expelled for “derogatory remarks” against Mulayam.
A day earlier, Shivpal, named as the SP state chief as part of the peace formula, had expelled an MLC , a nephew of party chief strategist Ramgopal Yadav who had stood by Akhilesh.
Those expelled on Monday include SP Youth Brigade national president Gaurav Dubey, state chief of SP Yuvjan Sabha Brijesh Yadav and SP Youth Brigade state chief Mohd Ebad, all known Akhilesh loyalists.
“Akhilesh ji is our undisputed leader. We joined politics under his leadership. We did not indulge in indiscipline. We are even ready to give our life from him,” Brijesh said.
State student wing chief Digvijay Singh Dev, who was also sacked, said he believed in policies of “Netaji”, as Mulayam is better known, and would continue to work for the party.
Akhilesh called for calm and, requested the leaders not to resign, sources said. He said everyone must listen to “Netaji”.
The sackings come as a surprise, as on Saturday Akhilesh promised “full support” to the new state president. He even gave back all the portfolios but one – the public works department -- to his uncle.
On Sunday, Shivpal had asked party workers to come together and work for SP’s win in the election. He also cautioned against factionalism, saying, “There is no place for factionalism in the party. Those indulging in it will be strictly dealt with.”
“If you all want to shout slogans, it should be first for the party, then for Netaji and then the chief minister.”
Giving in to his father’s wishes, Akhilesh had demanded a say in distribution of tickets, saying the assembly polls were his “pariksha” (test).
But, the purge undertaken by Shivpal indicates that the differences are far from resolved.
The differences between the two came out in the open when early last week Akhilesh took away three portfolios from Shivpal after Mulayam removed the chief minister as the UP party president and named his brother to the position.
The 43-year-old Akhilesh wants to break from the Samajwadi Party’s identity politics of the past and fight the election on an agenda of development and clean governance.