Lalu Prasad Yadav, who buried the hatchet and joined hands with his former foe Nitish Kumar last year, attempted to do something similar at the silver jubilee celebrations of the ruling Samajwadi Party in Lucknow on Saturday. The former Bihar chief minister brought Akhilesh Yadav and his uncle Shivpal Yadav together on the dais in a rare show of camaraderie. Both leaders, who have been at loggerheads over the past several months and maintain bitter feelings for each other, made for a rare show of unity at the grand event.
A video showed Lalu with Akhilesh and Shivpal holding swords on the dais and attempting to bring them closer to each other. Lalu is seen pulling Shivpal’s hand and making him bless Akhilesh. The chief minister in turn touches his uncle’s feet in what were dramatic scenes. Party chief Mulayam was also present on the dais.
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Later in his speech, Shivpal praised Akhilesh’s work as chief minister in the government and convinced supporters that the party will make a return to power after elections next year. He also ruled himself out of the chief ministerial nomination making it clear he had no such interests. However, he did not pitch for Akhilesh as the CM candidate either. Shivpal said it was because of Mulayam’s efforts that the party was able to come to power three times.
Shivpal, who held important portfolios in the state government, was sacked by Akhilesh last month in what appeared to be deep fissures within the party. In a retaliatory measure, Shivpal sacked Ram Gopal Yadav, a nephew of Mulayam and considered a close confidante Even as senior leaders dismissed any rift, speculation was rife that Akhilesh would break away from the party to lead his own campaign. But the chief minister made it clear he did not want to leave the party.