Hours after a bitter family spat that played out dramatically before a stunned party Monday, SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav called his son, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, and brother Shivpal Yadav, fired a day earlier as minister by Akhilesh, to his home and asked them to bury the hatchet, work together and lead the party to the assembly elections.
Earlier in the day, the family power struggle was on public display when Akhilesh traded charges with Shivpal who was backed by Mulayam Singh.
During the acrimonious exchanges, the Chief Minister offered to resign but Mulayam Singh, though visibly upset with his son, turned it down.
Supporters of rival camps, who had gathered at the party headquarters on Vikramaditya Marg in Lucknow, heard Mulayam Singh put up a spirited defence of Shivpal and party general secretary Amar Singh.
Amid the high drama, factions clashed and the meeting ended abruptly after the leaders at the centre of the power tussle had their say. Akhilesh denied the charge that he had any plans to float a new party and offered to step down if Mulayam Singh so wished.
As partymen watched, the Chief Minister nearly broke into tears while addressing his father: “Netaji, you taught me to stand up against injustice. People are saying that a new party will be formed. Why will I form a new party? Who are these people saying such things? Mein koi kaam nahin kar sakta doosra, aur mein kaun sa kaam karunga doosra… aaj jis unchaai par hoon, us unchaai se hat jaun aur chala jaun kahin aur (I can’t do any other work. Do you want me to step down from the heights I have reached and go elsewhere).”
“Let Netaji install a chief minister who he thinks is honest… Mere pita mere guru hain (my father is my guru),” Akhilesh told the party. He said many people were trying to create divisions within his family and he was not going to sit back and let that happen. “I have said I will take action if a conspiracy is hatched against me and the party,” he said.
“Netaji, mein ne pahle keh diya tha aap ki party hai. Mera uske andar kuchch nahin hai. Mai beta hoon Netaji ka. Meri kismat achchi hai ki mein unka beta hoon. Bete ki zimmedariyan nibhayi hai mein ne (Netaji, I had already said this is your party. I have no stake in it. I am fortunate that I am the son of Netaji. I have executed the responsibilities of a son),” he said.
“Mujhe aapatti nahin thi. Mujh se kahte ki isteefa de do, toh mein isteefa de deta (I had no objection. I would have resigned if you had asked me to),” he said.
He said Gayatri Prajapati was fired as minister and reinducted on the directions of Mulayam Singh and Deepak Singhal too was removed as Chief Secretary on his father’s instruction. “Mein jaanta tha Chief Secretary ko hataane se kya hoga (I knew what would happen if the Chief Secretary was removed).” Singhal was considered close to Shivpal.
Akhilesh blamed Amar Singh for the current developments, saying he (Singh) had hinted that some “major changes” would take place in October.
Attacking his nephew, Shivpal claimed that the Chief Minister had told him he would float a new party to contest the assembly polls. “I can swear by Gangajal.” He urged his brother to “take over reins of Uttar Pradesh”.
Mulayam Singh said the party was going through a difficult time and members should not fight each other. “I can’t tolerate anything against Amar and Shivpal. Amar saved me from going to jail,” Mulayam said, chiding Akhilesh for attacking Amar Singh.
“Amar has helped me a lot. Had he been not there, I would have been in jail. He is like my brother,” Mulayam said. He said by simply wearing a red cap (of the SP), one does not become a Samajwadi. “Some ministers are just sycophants,” he said.
“I cannot forget the work done by Shivpal,” he said, describing his brother as a mass leader. “We are facing a difficult situation, we should be removing our weaknesses, not fighting each other.” Pointing towards Akhilesh, Mulayam Singh said, “Hum inhe padhate hain, ye nahin samajhta hai (I try to educate him, he does not understand).”
When Mulayam Singh said he had received a letter from a Muslim stating that the community was not happy with the Chief Minister, Akhilesh rose from his seat and said: “Ye Ashu Malik (SP leader) hai… woh baat jaanta hoga ki Amar Singh ne mere baare me likhwaya ki Aurangzeb hoon aur Netaji Shah Jahan hain. Times of India ke front page par chhapwaya (He probably knew Amar Singh got an article published on the front page of Times of India that I am Aurangzeb and Netaji is Shah Jahan).”
At this, Shivpal grabbed the microphone from Akhilesh and said: “Yeh jhooth hai. Mukhya Mantri jhooth bol rahe hain (This is false. The CM is lying).”