At the Samajwadi Party’s special national convention on January 1, when Akhilesh Yadav was elected the party’s national president replacing his father Mulayam Singh Yadav, the latter was announced as sanrakshak, or patron. This remains the way Akhilesh and his camp followers refer to Mulayam.
The official list of party office-bearers that Akhilesh sent to the Election Commission, however, has no mention of the founder of the party. The list, sent to the EC during the contest between the two factions for the party symbol, has been accessed by The Indian Express following an application under the RTI Act asking for the list of latest office-bearers.
Mulayam had termed the special national convention “unconstitutional” and disputed Akhilesh’s claim that he had the support of most party delegates. The Election Commission, however, rejected the SP founder’s claim and recognised Akhilesh as the new president of the SP.
The list of office-bearers was sent by Akhilesh himself along with a letter dated January 2, a day after the convention. It is not just Mulayam’s name that is missing from the list of office-bearers, so are those of many leaders considered close to him. These include Rajya Sabha MP Amar Singh whose expulsion was already announced at the special national convention, Shivpal Yadav who was until then a member of the national executive, and Rajya Sabha MP Beni Prasad Verma who too used to be a member of national executive.
The list also drops then UP assembly speaker Mata Prasad Pandey, MLC Ambika Chaudhary who later joined the BSP, former minister Om Prakash Singh, Raja Aridaman Singh who later joined the BJP, Rajya Sabha MP Darshan Singh Yadav and Narendra Bhati, all of whom were earlier members of the national executive and all of whom known to be close to Mulayam.
A number of leaders seen as close to Akhilesh, on the other hand, newly enter the list: Javed Abdi who was stopped from speaking at an SP function by Shivpal last year, Ram Govind Chaudhary who is now leader of the Opposition in the assembly, Abhishek Mishra, Juhie Singh, Rajpal Kashyap, Sanjay Lathar and Arvind Kumar Singh. Asked about the omission of his name, Beni Prasad Verma said, “Whatever Akhilesh says is right”. The title of patron given to Mulayam, he added, is “in name only”. SP spokesperson Rajendra Chaudhary said he does not have information whether there is a post of patron in the party but added that even if it is not, it does not mean that Mulayam is not regarded as a patron. “He is a patron for all of us. If there is no position of patron in the party set-up, it does not matter. He is given the respect and honour due to a patron of the party,” he said.
Section 29A of Representation of the People Act 1951 mandates that political parties have to submit details of any change in their name, head office, and office-bearers to the Election Commission.