As Ramgopal Yadav and Amar Singh are blamed for the war in the Yadav clan, party insiders and those close to the family in Etawah and Lucknow are blaming a third individual for the developments of Sunday. Mulayam Singh Yadav’s second wife Sadhna Yadav has become a power centre in the family besides Mulayam’s brother Shivpal Yadav, Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav and the Samajwadi Party supremo himself, they said.
A majority of these leaders backed the allegations made by SP MLC Udaiveer Singh — considered close to the chief minister — that Shivpal had been the political face of Akhilesh’s “step mother” while seeking support of party leaders and family members to prevent Akhilesh from becoming CM in 2012.
Both Shivpal and Sadhna had wanted Mulayam to be chief minister instead, these leaders claimed.
Those close to the CM claim that as Akhilesh completes a full term with another five years in power looking likely, his opponents within the family have become active again. This group alleges that Sadhna and Shivpal are at work to prevent Akhilesh from becoming the face of the party’s 2017 campaign — and Mulayam’s refusal to declare him as the SP’s CM candidate recently was a consequence of the same “conspiracy”. Amar Singh helps Sadhna in “such matters”, according to a youth leader close to Akhilesh.
Party insiders say Sadhna is also concerned about the immediate political future of her daughter-in-law Aparna, the party candidate from the Lucknow Cantonment constituency. The possibility that sitting MLA and former Congress leader Rita Bahuguna Joshi — who has just joined the BJP — will be a candidate for the same seat has left the family in two minds over Aparna’s candidature. Since, as per close family friends, Sadhna’s son Prateek would not join active politics, she wants to establish Aparna. But with Akhilesh having a say in both Mulayam’s family and in the party, she remains worried about the prospects of her son and daughter-in-law, the party insiders said.
While the family feud has become public only now, problems started soon after Mulayam’s first wife and Akhilesh’s mother Malti Devi passed away in May 2003. Sadhna Gupta got the status of Mulayam’s wife the same year and, after a family function, moved into his Lucknow residence. She also got a new bungalow constructed at Saifai.
The differences in the family became public the day Akhilesh sacked two ministers —- Gayatri Prajapati and Raj Kishore Singh — close to Mulayam, and then removed Chief Secretary Deepak Singhal, who was close to Shivpal Yadav, next day. Mulayam, in an attempt to ‘manage’ Shivpal, removed Akhilesh from the post of state president, and appointed Shivpal to the post. Taking the move as a move to diminish his position, Akhilesh stripped Shivpal of his key portfolios including PWD and Irrigation after a few hours. He returned all departments except PWD later, hitting his uncle’s ego.
Since then, Shivpal, in his capacity as state president, has expelled as many as five MLCs and four senior youth leaders of SP front organisations, all considered very close to Akhilesh.