The ruling Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh was in turmoil Thursday after veteran leader Shivpal Yadav, brother of party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, quit as minister from the government of nephew Akhilesh Yadav and the post of state party president two days after his appointment.
Shivpal sent his resignation to Mulayam Singh and Akhilesh after meeting them at their homes separately. SP sources said Mulayam Singh, anticipating Shivpal’s move, had rushed to Lucknow from New Delhi Thursday afternoon. He met both Shivpal and Akhilesh. Earlier in the day, Shivpal told reporters that a decision on his continuation in the government would be taken only by Mulayam Singh.
That the rift in the family had widened was evident in the morning when Ram Gopal Yadav, party general secretary and cousin of Mulayam Singh, disagreed with the decision to remove Akhilesh as state party president, calling it a “mistake” even if “unintentional”.
Endorsing Akhilesh’s remark that “outsiders” were interfering in party affairs, he said Mulayam Singh was being “misled” by “some people” into believing he was being challenged.
Ram Gopal, who met Akhilesh in Lucknow, said the Chief Minister would have quit the party post had his resignation been sought.
“Kehte istifa de dijiye, chunav aa raha hai… adhyaksh ka kaam yeh karenge aur aap chief minister hain hi… koi problem hi nahin thi… us chakkar mein misunderstanding ho gayi (He could have been asked to step down in view of the approaching elections. He could have been told you are the CM, he (Shivpal Yadav) will perform the duties of the president. There would have been no problem. But it led to a misunderstanding),” he said.
Two days ago, Mulayam Singh appointed brother Shivpal as the state unit chief, prompting Akhilesh to divest the latter of key ministerial portfolios.
Ram Gopal said “some people” with “no concern” for the interests of the party and with “no association” to the party were “taking advantage” of Mulayam Singh’s “simplicity” and causing damage.
He said “one such person” had got appointed an in-charge (Shivpal) of the party though there was no such provision. He said party workers and leaders want action against “that person” but any action will be taken once “limits are crossed”.
He did not take names but party insiders said he could have been referring to Amar Singh whose return to the party has been credited to Shivpal.
To a reporter’s query whether action was being contemplated against a ‘Mulayamwadi’ — Amar Singh has often called himself that — Ram Gopal said: “There is nothing like Mulayamwadi. One who is not Samajwadi, how can he be Mulayamwadi.”
He said it is “not unnatural” if the Chief Minister of a state like Uttar Pradesh takes some decisions on his own. “It is natural and he should take decisions,” he said. On the sacking of two ministers by Akhilesh, Ram Gopal said, “Netaji ne hi nikalwaya (Mulayam Singh had them removed).”
Meanwhile, Shivpal, who had also reached Lucknow, received a rousing reception at the airport from party workers who chanted “Shivpal tum sangharsh karo, hum tumhare saath hain”. He told reporters he too was removed from the post of state party president in the same manner when Akhilesh replaced him. He said he had accepted the decision.
Asked about the “outsider” remark of Akhilesh, Shivpal said a person should “use his own brain” and not take decisions “under anyone’s influence”. He said the induction of more people increases the strength of the party.
On key portfolios being taken away from from him, Shivpal said he felt that Mulayam Singh’s “opinion” was not taken. “But I am ready to make any sacrifice,” he said, adding that he had always accepted Akhilesh as Chief Minister.
On Ram Gopal’s remark that the party had no provision of an in-charge, Shivpal said, “It is the decision of Netaji (Mulayam Singh). He has all the powers, and no one can challenge that.” He said he wanted the entire party and family to remain united to return to power in the 2017 assembly elections.