Akhilesh Yadav
Akhilesh Yadav
Image Source: ANI/Twitter

Lucknow: Fighting for the Samajwadi Party's political survival, party patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav is keen to build bridges with Uttar Pradesh leaders who have parted ways with it.

The Samajwadi Party (SP) has been going steadily downhill every since Akhilesh Yadav took over its reins. It was reduced to five seats in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections and then got decimated in the 2017 Assembly elections. The party ended with 47 seats in the 403 member house even though Akhilesh Yadav had forged an alliance with the Congress. In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the SP joined hands with the BSP, but the tie-up fell apart after SP ended up with just five seats.

According to sources, Mulayam Singh Yadav is upset with what the party -- which once ruled Uttar Pradesh for consecutive terms -- has been reduced to. He has been repeatedly asking Akhilesh to get his act together and build bridges with estranged leaders -- most importantly, uncle Shivpal Yadav, who was one of the main architects of the party. Mulayam Singh Yadav has also been trying to convince Shivpal Yadav for a homecoming.

Shivpal, who had floated his Pragatisheel Samajwadi Party Lohia (PSPL) last year after his break-up with Akhilesh, has also not been able to make his mark in state politics. "Shivpal is a grassroots leader, while Akhilesh hardly leaves the city. But Akhilesh's ego has become a major roadblock in the patch-up. Mulayam Singh is keen to set things back on track but Akhilesh does not want any senior, including his uncle, back," said a senior party leader.

At a recent press conference, Akhilesh declared that his "doors were open for all and all were welcome". This sent a section of the media into a spin which predicted that a merger of the SP and the PSPL was on the cards. However the PSPL, on Monday night, issued a statement saying that no talks in this direction had taken place and speculations of a merger were "false and baseless".

"There have been several rounds of talks between Mulayam Singh and Shivpal Yadav but Akhilesh has not lifted a finger yet," said a PSPL leader. The Samajwadi Party sources said Akhilesh's cousin and former MP Dharmendra Yadav is now on a mission to broker peace between the SP chief and his uncle.

"The main problem is that Akhilesh does not want to give any position to Shivpal under his leadership and Shivpal will not remain content just being a legislator. A petition filed by the SP to the UP Assembly Speaker seeking Shivpal's disqualification as MLA under the anti-defection law has added insult to injury," said a party functionary. With the SP in disarray, its leaders are worried about the Yadav votes, which may cross over to the BJP damaging the party further. The BJP is already building up Yadav leaders and is focusing on the community for the 2022 Assembly polls.

By Amita Verma

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