Shivpal offers resignation to quell Yadav family feud, Akhilesh skips SP meet
Samajwadi Party leader Shivpal Yadav offered to quit as the state unit president on Friday, making an emotional appeal to keep the party united amid a raging feud with his nephew and Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav.
Shivpal’s emotional speech was the high point of a gathering of district units in Lucknow, one of the three meetings convened by the SP leadership over the weekend to discuss the growing fissures within the ruling family that is threatening to split the party ahead of the assembly polls early next year.
Akhilesh did not attend the meeting butlater met the district leaders separately at his residence.
SP spokesperson Deepak Mishra quoted Shivpal as saying that if the entire controversy in the party was because of his taking over as state chief, he was willing to quit if patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav asked him to do so.
His offer was, however, rejected by party men, who said they wanted him to continue but at the same time wanted an unequivocal commitment that Akhilesh will be declared as the party’s CM face.
“Akhileshji would be CM again,” Shivpal reportedly told party leaders, seen as his backing of his nephew days after Mulayam publicly refused to name Akhilesh as the party’s chief ministerial candidate.
Party national general secretary and Rajya Sabha member Beni Prasad Verma separately described the feud as the worst ever but was confident that “the party will not split”.
It was unclear whether the district leaders, who were closeted with Shivpal for three hours, discussed the family turmoil, sparked by the appointment of Shivpal as state president replacing Akhilesh.
Akhilesh had retaliated by stripping Shivpal of key ministerial portfolios and dropping two ministers accused of corruption.
The power struggle intensified after Shivpal expelled several youth leaders and went ahead with merging a party floated by a jailed gangster with SP despite Akhilesh’s objections.
Though Mulayam managed to broker an uneasy truce, Akhilesh’s decision to start his poll campaign and go on a yatra two days before the party silver jubilee celebrations indicated widening of the fissures, party sources said.
Mishra, howevera, downplayed Akhilesh’s absence, saying:” There is decentralisation of power now and they (Akhilesh and Shivpal) are both playing the role assigned to them by Mulayam. His ( Akhilesh) presence therefore was not necessary in the meeting.”
Mishra made no mention of Akhilesh’s yatra.
The SP’s state working committee will meet on Saturday. Mulayam has convened a meeting of party legislators and ministers on October 24.