Ending the months-long family feud, members of the ruling Yadav clan presented a picture of unity at the polling booth in Saifai, with Mulayam Singh Yadav’s second wife Sadhana Yadav describing Akhilesh and Prateek as her “two eyes”.
Journalists, thronging Abhinav Vidyalay, the polling booth in Saifai on Sunday, were barraging questions at the family members over the power tussle between chief minister Akhilesh Yadav and his uncle Shivpal Yadav, who was backed by Mulayam.
Sadhana, when asked about Akhilesh and Prateek, described them as her two eyes, and said any reference to Akhilesh as her stepson pained her.
Akhilesh is the son of Mulayam and his first wife Malti Devi, and Prateek was born to the former and Sadhana.
Sadhana had come with Prateek’s wife, Aparana Yadav at 11 am to vote and made the remarks while posing for photographs with her husband outside the booth after voting.
Mulayam waved to supporters and lauded the performance of the Akhilesh government and said the party will retain power.
Akhilesh, who came with his cousin and Badaun MP Dharmendra Yadav, exuded confidence of victory, but did not mention his uncle Shivpal, the SP candidate from Jaswant Nagar, until asked.
In his response, he asked whether his presence in Saifai, which falls under Jaswant Nagar constituency, did not mean support for Shivpal.
Mulayam’s younger brother Abhay Ram Singh Yadav, who was the first to arrive at polling station, had said the same earlier. “Akhilesh Yadav will come to this polling centre and vote for Shivpal Yadav.”
He blamed his cousin and SP general secretary, Ramgopal Yadav for the “painful rift that has been repaired now”.
Ramgopal, who supported Akhilesh during the feud, said, “I have worked for saving the cycle (SP poll symbol). Will I not vote for the cycle?”
On the family feud, he objected to it being termed “family drama”, and claimed that the SP would win 60 of 69 seats in the third phase and 300 overall in the assembly election.
Rajpal Yadav, another younger brother of Mulayam, said those responsible for family differences have been thrown out of the party.
When asked to name them, he said all knew their name.
Asked why Mulayam was campaigning selectively, he attributed it to the SP patriarch’s age.
Later, Shivpal, who reached the polling booth with his son Aditya Yadav, asserted that the SP was coming back to power and tried to convey that the family feud was a thing of the past.
He also said it was his duty to comply with Netaji’s (Mulayam) order, apparently referring to Mulayam’s remark earlier in the day that Akhilesh will be chief minister again and Shivpal will get the number two status in the government.
Prateek, who drove to Saifai on the newly-built Agra-Lucknow Expressway, praised the chief minister for building the expressway.
Kannauj MP and Akhilesh’s wife Dimple Yadav was the cynosure of all eyes as she reached the polling station with her daughter.
Mainpuri MP Tej Pratap Yadav and Firozabad MP Akshay Yadav too said all was well in the family.
The highway linking Mainpuri and Etawah was lined with OB vans of television channels as journalists waited for the Yadavs to arrive in their SUVs to cast their votes in the third phase of polling on Sunday.