THE warring factions of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav and state party chief Shivpal Yadav pushed the Samajwadi Party to the verge of a split on Sunday, with each expelling senior leaders from the other side. After Akhilesh sacked uncle Shivpal and three of his close ministers from the Cabinet, party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav expelled cousin and Rajya Sabha MP Ramgopal Yadav from the party for six years. While Akhilesh gave a terse message to party MLAs and MLCs at a meeting at his residence this morning to stay away from SP Rajya Sabha MP Amar Singh, Shivpal at a press conference later accused SP general secretary Ramgopal of trying to divide the party at the instance of the BJP and said the CM was not seeing this “conspiracy”.
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The rapid developments started unfolding with Ramgopal releasing a letter to the media, marked “Mumbai, October 23, 6 am”. Without taking any names, the letter said, “Vey chahte hain ki har halat mein Akhilesh Yadav haarein. Hamara soch positive hai… unka negative. Mananiya Mukhyamantri ke saath wo log hain jinhone party ke liye khoon bahaya, apman saha. Udhar wo log hain jinhone hazaro karore rupaiye kamaya, vyabhichar kiya aur satta ka durupyog kiya (They want Akhilesh to lose, come what may. Our thinking is positive, theirs is negative. Those who gave their blood for the party, faced humiliation are with the CM. On the other side are people who have earned billions, indulged in unethical acts, misused power).
Ramgopal’s letter added, “Those who are opposing Akhilesh will not be able to re-enter the Assembly. Do not get scared and do not get distracted. Jahan Akhilesh-Vahan Vijay (Where there is Akhilesh, there is victory).”
About five hours after the letter was released, Akhilesh sacked Shivpal and Om Prakash Singh, Narad Rai and Syeda Shadab Fatima from the Cabinet. The three ministers are believed to be close to Shivpal and Amar Singh.
Later, around 11 am, Akhilesh held a meeting with SP MLAs and MLCs at his residence. While Shivpal skipped the meeting, controversial minister Gayatri Prasad Prajapati, who had been removed by Akhilesh from the ministry but brought back at Shivpal’s insistence, was present.
Irfan Solanki, the MLA from Sismau in Kanpur, said that at the meeting, Akhilesh blamed Amar Singh for the turmoil in the party as well as for interfering between him and father Mulayam.
Another MLA said that Akhilesh warned that those supporting Amar Singh, now SP general secretary, would not either stay in the Cabinet or with him.
The party legislators later adopted a resolution that those present at the meeting, along with the CM, would attend the silver jubilee celebrations of the SP on November 5, and that the Agra-Lucknow Expressway would be be dedicated to the public on November 21 on the eve of Mulayam’s birth anniversary. Earlier, there were indications from the Akhilesh camp that he would not attend the celebrations, where Shivpal was expected to be present.
Shivpal struck back around 4 pm. At a hurriedly called press conference at the state party headquarters, where he made no mention of his sacking from the Cabinet, Shivpal announced the expulsion of Ramgopal, who is also the national spokesperson of the party. Accusing Ramgopal of being hand in glove with the BJP, Shivpal said he had met a senior BJP leader thrice.
Accusing Ramgopal of “telling lies and maligning the CM’s image”, Shivpal said he was doing this to save his son Akshay Yadav (MP), daughter-in-law and himself, alleging that they were all trapped in the corruption case involving ex-NOIDA chief engineer Yadav Singh.
“To save himself from the CBI, he is conspiring at the instance of the BJP. He is running a campaign to weaken Netaji (Mulayam) and the Samajwadi Party. The Chief Minister is not able to understand these conspiracies. But, he should understand who is his blood relative and who is his well-wisher,” Shivpal said.
Shivpal also accused Ramgopal of always insulting party leaders and workers. “Ramgopal kabhi kisi ke dukh aur dard me khade nahin huye (He has never stood by anyone in times of their grief or pain),” Shivpal said, adding that Ramgopal had conspired against him too for speaking out against his dictatorial ways. “Now he is adamant on weakening Netaji and the Akhilesh government. He is hand in glove with corrupt people,” said Shivpal. On the contrary, he has always been doing public service with honesty in the Akhilesh government, Shivpal said.
He also accused Ramgopal of exploiting “the simplicity of Netaji in national politics”, and claimed it was Ramgopal who had made Mulayam walk out of the Mahagathbandhan in Bihar.
Ramgopal used his brains and knowledge only to hatch conspiracies and to form gangs, Shivpal said. “CM samajh nahin rahe hain. Unko samajhna chahiye tha. Seedhe sarkar aur CM par aarop lage aur wo nahin samajh rahe hain (The CM is not realising what is happening. He should have understood. There is a direct attack on his government and him, and he is not realising it).”
Shivpal said now he along with party workers would start preparing for the elections. “We can’t let the SP weaken,” he said, promising that the party would form the government again under “the leadership of Netaji”.
He advised supporters to keep patient and work with “josh aur hosh (passion and alertness)”.