Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav may have his way in the Samajwadi Party after his displeasure over the expulsion of two trusted youth leaders became apparent when he skipped the party’s annual showpiece, Saifai Mahotsav.
The duo — former Samajwadi Chatra Sabha national president Sunil Singh Yadav ‘Saajan’ and former Samajwadi Party Lohia Vahini chief Anand Bhadauria — are likely to be re-inducted after they were expelled on Friday for “anti-party activities”, sources said on Monday.
They received unprecedented support from party members and youth associates on social media, such as Facebook, while word swirled over a miffed chief minister backing them to the hilt after he did not show up at the Saifai Mahotsav inauguration on December 26.
The buzz about his anger grew as he has been staying away from the fortnight-long extravaganza — replete with performances by Bollywood celebrities — at the ancestral village of the Yadav clan in Etawah district.
The party has not witnessed such outrage even when its patriarch, Mulayam Singh Yadav, expelled founder-member and Muslim poster boy Azam Khan or then national general secretary Amar Singh in the past.
The SP leadership expelled youth leaders Sunil and Anand from the party on the eve of Saifai festival’s inauguration. Senior minister Shivpal Singh Yadav, who is also the chief minister’s uncle, made the announcement, though Akhilesh Yadav is the party’s state unit president. He was apparently not consulted.
The expulsions triggered talk about Akhilesh Yadav’s authority being compromised.
Media reports on internal differences within the Yadav clan fuelled speculations and people interpreted the chief minister’s absence from Saifai as an expression of his unhappiness to interferences by father Mulayam Singh and two uncles, Shivpal and Ramgopal.
The expelled duo has been Akhilesh Yadav’ close associates since the time he was national president of the party’s youth wing. They were with him in his efforts to reorganise and expand the party’s youth cadre.
All top leaders, including party national president Mulayam Singh, acknowledge that it was Team Akhilesh that brought the SP to power with a thumping majority in 2012.
The expulsion was seen as a knee-jerk reaction to complaints from party members to Mulayam Singh that they were not toeing the party line in supporting candidates for panchayat polls and instead pushing people they favoured.
Sources said Shivpal Yadav and several senior leaders were now putting pressure on the leadership to revoke the expulsions, calling the punishment too harsh.
“They should have been punished but by reprimanding, warning or suspending them. The expulsion was too much. Moreover, the two were trusted workers and youth leaders in the party. They began their political career in the Samajwadi Party and never went anywhere else,” said a party leader.
The about-turn was again seen as a reaction to the chief minister’s displeasure as well as growing outrage on social media and streets. From Sunday morning, supporters of the expelled duo flooded social networking sites with images of Sunil with Akhilesh Yadav. A photograph of Sunil bleeding from his head at a party protest when the Mayawati-led BSP was in power has gone viral.
These youth leaders played key roles in the success of Akhilesh Yadav’s statewide Kranti Rath Yatra prior to the 2012 assembly election. He rewarded them afterwards.