The Samajwadi Party infighting intensified on Sunday as Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav once again sacked his uncle and the party’s state unit chief Shivpal Yadav along with three other MLAs from the state cabinet. The four ministers sacked by Akhilesh Yadav are Shivpal Yadav, Omprakash, Narad Rai and Sayeda Shadab Fatima. Speaking to news agency ANI, party MLA Raju Yadav said that Akhilesh Yadav didn’t want ‘anyone close to Amar Singh’ in his cabinet.
Samajwadi Party General Secretary Ram Gopal Yadav, too, threw all his weight behind nephew Akhilesh putting himself at loggerheads with party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav. On Sunday, Ram Gopal wrote a letter to party workers insisting that the future of the party lies with Akhilesh. The UP CM had even clarified saying that the infighting was “a fight in the government and not the family.”
Here’s a timeline of events leading up to Sunday’s event:
How it all began: Sacking of chief secretary Deepak Singhal
In September, CM Akhilesh decided to replace Shivpal aide Deepak Singhal, who was the state’s Chief Secretary, with reportedly one of his own confidantes, Rahul Bhatnagar. While no reason was given for this removal, party insiders believe that Singhal was removed as he attended a dinner hosted by once-expelled leader Amar Singh, who is considered to be close to Shivpal.
Sacking of the two ministers
Along with Singhal, Akhilesh also sacked Mining Minister Gayatri Prajapati and Panchayati Raj Minister Raj Kishor Singh over charges of corruption. Singh was removed as the in-charge for minor irrigation and animal husbandry. Sources suggest that the two ministers continued to serve in the cabinet despite resistance from others due to their proximity to Mulayam Singh. However, by sacking them, Akhilesh had managed to make a big statement. “By removing ministers and the chief secretary, Akhilesh has tried to send out a message before the polls that he is the CM and the only centre of power in the government and that he has the courage to take tough decisions,” explained an SP leader.
Akhilesh’s removal as UP state chief and Shivpal’s exit from the Cabinet
Hours after Akhilesh announced his decision to remove Singhal, Mulayam Singh ruffled a few more feathers by announcing that Shivpal would now replace nephew Akhilesh as the party chief for the UP state unit. The whole episode took a dramatic turn when Akhilesh divested his uncle of all chief ministerial portfolios in return.
Ram Gopal, who is considered to be close to Akhilesh, said the party had committed an unintentional mistake by removing Akhilesh as state unit’s chief. He later met the chief minister and said that there had been a misunderstanding.
“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.
It wouldn’t be wrong to say that the current scheme of things have largely been influenced by the history between the four Yadavs. While Ram Gopal has been a senior leader in the party, he has not enjoyed as much power as Shivpal. This might be attributed to Shivpal’s closeness to the SP supremo while Ram Gopal is believed to be close to Akhilesh.
The Amar Singh angle
While speaking on his decisions, Akhilesh said he had to intervene if ‘outsiders’ interfered in party affairs. Many suspect this outsider to be the once-ousted leader Amar Singh who was inducted back in the party and apparently had Mulayam’s ear and Shivpal’s backing.
Ram Gopal too had said people who did not care about the party were misleading Mulayam because of his simplicity. Endorsing the outsider remark by Akhilesh, Ram Gopal also defended him saying a chief minister is entitled to take certain decisions on their own.
Shivpal’s late-night resignation from govt, party posts
The round one of this family bout ended with Shivpal offering resignation from all party posts after he met the father-son duo separately. Saying that he would respect Mulayam Singh’s commands, Shivpal quit from all his positions along with his son Aditya Yadav who is Chairman of Pradeshik Cooperative Federation.
Shivpal returns to state cabinet
After rounds of meeting, Mulayam saw to it that most of the key portfolios were restored to Shivpal. Prajapati too was inducted back into the cabinet. However, the party has faced troubles with Shivpal expelling seven senior youth leaders close to Akhilesh, forming his own state team and demoting Akhilesh’s loyalist leaders Naresh Uttam and SRS Yadav in that team. Shivpal had also had expelled MLC Arvind Pratap Yadav, who is Ram Gopal’s nephew.
Mulayam also held back from naming Akhilesh as the party’s chief ministerial candidate for the assembly elections. It was after Ram Gopal’s intervention that the party announced Akhilesh’s name as the face of party in 2017 elections.
Shivpal sacked again on Sunday
Akhilesh sacked Shivpal Yadav along with Omprakash, Narad Rai and Sayeda Shadab Fatima. Earlier in the day, Ram Gopal wrote a letter to party workers insisting that the future of the party lies with Akhilesh.