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IN SIGNS that the rift within the Samajwadi Party isn’t getting bridged anytime soon, state party chief Shivpal Yadav began scouting for partners in a “grand alliance” Wednesday while starting to move out of his ministerial residence which seemed to rule out his return as a minister. On a day when Rahul Gandhi called UP Congress leaders to seek their views on possible alliances, Shivpal too left for Delhi where he met JD(U) general secretary K C Tyagi, besides calling up Bihar CM Nitish Kumar as well as RLD chief Ajit Singh. Party sources SP leaders are also in touch with leaders of the RJD, the Lok Dal and the Congress. They said Mulayam has assigned Shivpal the task of talks with leaders of other parties.
In the morning, Shivpal told journalists in Lucknow, “We will not let communal forces succeed in UP and are ready to make any sacrifice for that. We will bring all Lohiawadi, Chaudhary Charan Singhwadi and Gandhiwadi parties together to stop communal forces.” Shivpal didn’t name parties specifically. Party spokesperson Deepak Mishra too said the SP wants an anti-BJP front with parties that follow the ideologies of Ram Manohar Lohia, Chaudhary Charan Singh and Mahatma Gandhi.
In Delhi, Shivpal invited “like-minded socialists” to the party’s 25th anniversary celebrations on November 5. Asked whether he would invite RJD and RLD leaders, Shivpal said, “As of now I am here to invite K C Tyagi.” Would he invite Congress leaders? “Only socialists” are being invited, he said.
While the grand alliance was taking shape in Bihar, Shivpal had played a key role in negotiations before the SP eventually pulled out. “We want to form the same kind of maha gathbandhan in UP for 2017,” said an SP leader.
Today, Shivpal blames his cousin for the failed alliance in Bihar. “I had tried to form an alliance earlier too but Ram Gopal Yadav (now expelled) did not allow it to happen fearing the CBI,” Shivpal told reporters at Delhi airport.
If an alliance does form now, it would be difficult for rebels to challenge. The moves come amid a growing distance between Shivpal and Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav. “If an alliance works out with parties in other states, it will be an embarrassment for Akhilesh who claims he successfully ruled the state for five years in a government that has an absolute majority. Akhilesh wants to contest on his development agenda but Mulayam is concerned about the votes of Muslims, non-Yadav OBCs and Jats,” said an SP leader in Lucknow.
On September 24, RLD president Ajit Singh had released an open letter appealing to parties who believe in the ideologies of Lohia and Charan Singh to unite ahead of the UP polls. The following day, Shivpal was in Haryana for an INLD rally, where Nitish was chief guest.
In Delhi, Shivpal was asked if he would attend the rath yatra that Akhilesh plans from November 3. Though he is “no longer under the CM”, Shivpal said, he would certainly attend if invited.
Responding to another question, he said Akhilesh should respect his father Mulayam like a disciplined son.