His party in turmoil over the widening rift in his family, Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav stepped in Wednesday to paper over the cracks after his son, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, and younger brother Shivpal Singh, who he named state party president a day earlier, stood their ground and rallied their respective camps.
In New Delhi, Mulayam Singh held talks with Shivpal and Gayatri Prajapati, the minister sacked by Akhilesh two days ago. Rajya Sabha MP and media baron Subhash Chandra too dropped by. Party insiders claimed Akhilesh had also been called to Delhi but he did not turn up.
In Lucknow, a day after he divested uncle Shivpal of key ministerial portfolios and removed Chief Secretary Deepak Singhal who was close to Shivpal, Akhilesh said: “Parivar ka jhagda aapko kahan se lag raha hai. Yeh sarkar ka jhagda dikhai de raha hai aapko… ye parivar me jhagda nahin dikhai de raha hai (What you are witnessing is a fight in the government, not the family).”
He said he would follow the directions of his father. “Kaun Netaji ki baat nahin manega? Jahan tak main samajhta hoon parivar ki baat hai…Yadi koi nirnay liya hai to Netaji ke kehne se hi.
Kabhi-kabhi kuch nirnay apne aap liye jaate hain… Netaji ke kehne se nirnay liye aur kuch nirnay apne aap liye (Who will not follow Netaji’s instructions? If I have taken any decision, it is on his directive. But sometimes you have to take a few decisions on your own).”
Akhilesh spoke of “intervention” by “outsiders” but did not take names: “Ab agar ghar se bahar ke log hastakshep karenge toh party kaise chalegi (How will the party function if there is intervention by outsiders).” Defending the decision to remove two ministers and the Chief Secretary, he said: “Jo ghatnakram hai… main samajhta hoon Lok Nirman Mantriji (referring to Shivpal) ko bhi pata hai Chief Secretary kisne hataya aur mantri kaise hatey.”
While he did not elaborate, party insiders pointed to a dinner hosted in Delhi last Sunday by Amar Singh which was attended, among others, by Mulayam Singh, Shivpal, Singhal and Subhash Chandra. Akhilesh did not attend.
Meanwhile, Amar Singh rejected the suggestion that he was the “outsider” Akhilesh mentioned. “Aap kitna bhi kahein Akhilesh ne yeh kaha hai, mai maanne ko taiyyar nahin. Aaj tak usne vyaktigat roop se mere baare mei ek shabd nahin kaha (No matter how many times you say that Akhilesh said this, I am not ready to accept it. Till date he has never spoken out against me).”
Amar Singh, whose return to the party fold has been credited to Shivpal, said he has “brotherly relations” with Mulayam Singh. “If Mulayam Singhji says I am the culprit, I will accept it. I met Mulayam Singhji yesterday, I share brotherly relations with him,” he said.
Earlier in the day, Shivpal told reporters in Saifai, the family home in Etawah district, that no one in the party could “ignore” Mulayam Singh’s decisions. “The responsibility of the organisation has been assigned to me by Netaji and I will execute it properly. The people of Uttar Pradesh are with Netaji and Samajwadi Party. Whatever decision Netaji takes, I will follow that,” he said. “Bahut se dalal hote hain… jo thaano me baithte hain… unse door rehna chahiye… bahut se log idhar ki udhar karte hain… unse door rehna chahiye… samajhdari to yahi hoti hai (there are many middlemen, many who carry tales, stay away from them).” He did not elaborate.
Sources said that at his meeting with Mulayam Singh in New Delhi, Shivpal complained of being “slighted” and underlined that as a senior minister, he never publicly opposed the decisions taken by Akhilesh or Mulayam Singh though he may have differed with them in private.
Shivpal later said: “Neither I nor Netaji is angry. We all are happy. There are no differences… I will not resign. I am still part of the cabinet.”
The SP parliamentary board has decided to meet in Lucknow. While Shivpal will leave for Lucknow Thursday evening, Mulayam Singh will reach there Friday morning.
The developments in the party have created ripples in Lucknow and sent conflicting signals to SP workers.
Akhilesh had been named state party president by Mulayam Singh weeks before the 2012 assembly elections. Shivpal’s appointment as the new state unit chief is considered significant because he will have a say in decisions of the party in the run-up to the 2017 elections — from selection of candidates to planning the poll campaign.
The party has already rolled out a Mulayam Sandesh Rath Yatra and the SP chief is set to launch the election campaign from Azamgarh, his Lok Sabha constituency, where he will address a rally on October 7.