FAMILY DRAMA IN OPEN: After Netaji-Akhilesh spat, Shivpal calls on CM, both leaders meet Mulayam , Lucknow
The feud in UP’s ruling Samajwadi Party on Monday came out into the open with a high-voltage drama unfolding in full public view during which party patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav sided with his younger brother Shivpal and friend Amar Singh, and reprimanded son Akhilesh Yadav but ruled out his removal as Chief Minister.
Amid speculation about a possible split ahead of the assembly polls, the bitter power struggle in SP’s first family played out on stage at a meeting called by its supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav of party legislators, MPs and other leaders where Akhilesh, blowing hot and cold, first offered to step down in a choked voice but later accused Amar Singh and those close to him of hatching a “conspiracy” against him and his father.
There were sharp exchanges between Akhilesh and Mulayam, who virtually dismissed him as an insignificant entity in UP politics who could not win an election without his support. “What is your capability? Can you win elections?” he said, snapping at Akhilesh.
There were ugly scenes and name-calling, with Shivpal Yadav, the state SP chief, snatching the microphone from Akhilesh and calling him a liar, only to make a dramatic appearance at the Chief Minister’s residence hours later. The nephew-uncle duo drove in the same car to meet party patriarch Mulayam, who was said to be having a severe toothache, surprising many.
Party observers said the meeting could have been at the behest of Mulayam, who had earlier in the day wished that Akhilesh and Shivpal transcended all differences and hugged each other.
The bile-filled exchanges between top SP leaders came a day after the continuing battle of attrition between Akhilesh and his uncle Shivpal Yadav saw the Chief Minister sacking Shivpal and three other ministers close to him, and Mulayam striking back with vengeance expelling from the party for six years his cousin Ram Gopal Yadav. Ram Gopal, a Rajya Sabha member, has been backing Akhilesh in his fight against Shivpal. Addressing the gathering Akhilesh ruled out forming a new party, a claim which Shivpal disputed, saying he was prepared to “swear” by his son and “Ganga Jal” that the Chief Minister had told him he would indeed float a new party and contest the assembly polls in alliance with some political party. The proceedings reached a flashpoint when Akhilesh accused Rajya Sabha member Amar Singh, who recently returned to SP, of having planted a story in a leading English daily in which he was called ‘Aurangzeb’ and Mulayam ‘Shahjahan’. Mughal emperor Shahjahan was imprisoned by his son Aurangzeb in his last years. Shivpal, who was standing close by, was seen snatching away the microphone from Akhilesh and calling him a “liar”. “The Chief Minister is lying…the Chief Minister is lying,” he told the gathering. Shivpal also demanded that Mulayam take over the helm of the government.
In his speech, Akhilesh sought to scotch speculation that he was planning to form a new party and offered to step down. “Let ‘netaji’ (Mulayam) install a chief minister who he feels is honest. Why should I form a new party?” he posed in an emotionally choked voice, calling the SP supremo his “pita (father) and guru (teacher).
The Chief Minister said many people were trying to create divisions within his family using various machinations and that he had taught himself how to oppose any wrong doing.
At one point, Akhilesh appeared to extend an olive branch when he said,”Rath bhi chaley, sthapana diwas bhi maney (my rath yatra will go on and establishment day of the party will be celebrated).” There has been speculation that he would give the SP’s silver jubilee celebration on November 5 by proceeding on his ‘rath yatra’ two days earlier.