Lucknow: Uttar Pradesh’s ruling Samajwadi Party tried to put up a united face at its silver jubilee gala here on Saturday, but the peace seemed fragile as state party chief Shivpal Singh Yadav took several pot shots at his nephew and Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav.
The two have been locked in a bitter turf war over the past two months, even coming to blows at a public function. Shivpal, who was sacked as a minister twice in a month by Akhilesh, said he wanted to once again reiterate that he was not after any post or ministry.
“I have said it in the past and am saying it again that becoming Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh was never my ambition, and I reiterate it,” Shivpal said as his supporters applauded. He also said his contribution to the party’s growth and the state government headed by Akhilesh was no less.
“Have I not worked hard? Have the departments I held did any lesser work?” he asked Akhilesh and informed how maximum work in the present government was done by his departments like PWD and Irrigation, which he was divested of by Akhilesh. He listed various projects to support his contention.
Shivpal also informed the gathering at the sprawling Janeshwar Mishra Park here that 42 new tehsils (revenue subdivisions) had been created in the last two years alone, while he was state minister. Asking for respect, a visibly emotional Shivpal said the Chief Minister can go on and ask for any sacrifice from him.
“If the party so requires, I am ready to even offer them my blood,” he said.
Referring to his dismissal from the state cabinet twice, Shivpal said he was neither greedy for any post nor any ministry. He also said that while some people get power in lineage, there were many who were silent workers.
His apparent hint was at Akhilesh being anointed as the successor of party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav.
Later, when a former minister of state and member of the youth brigade Javed Abdi started speaking on the dais and started eulogising Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, he was pushed away by Shivpal Yadav. Before this, Shivpal was called by party supremo and elder brother Mulayam Singh Yadav and asked to tell Abdi to go away.
This, political observers here say, was another indication that all is still not well within the party.
Earlier, the two sides showed unusual bonhomie and when RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav tried to ensure a shake hand between Shivpal and Akhilesh, the latter touched the feet of his uncle and former PWD minister.
As the organiser of the event that saw lakhs turn up to witness the old socialist allies come together, Shivpal first welcomed guests like former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda, Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad Yadav, former Janata Dal-United president Sharad Yadav, RLD chief Ajeet Singh and others.