Dramatic developments in the Samajwadi Party (SP) continue as party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav on Thursday reinstated his cousin Ramgopal Yadav into the party and announced that he will continue to be the party’s Rajya Sabha leader, its general secretary, spokesperson and member of the central parliamentary board. Mulayam made the announcement Thursday morning but he had indicated this on Wednesday when he had allowed Ramgopal to sit in his usual place in the Rajya Sabha, reserved for the party’s floor leader, and to participate in the discussion on demonetisation.
Mulayam decided to reinduct Ramgopal and to allow him to represent party in the Upper House a few days after he had said that he gave no importance to Ramgopal’s comments.
Ramgopal had broken down before the media in Etawah on Monday when he had said that that he was upset with charges of corruption leveled against him by the party. Ramgopal had said that he believed he was still part of the SP. Ramgopal had demanded that the party should withdraw the expulsion of various leaders who were shown the door in the past two months in an ‘unconstitutional manner’.
Today’s development has once again shown up the ‘unpredictable’ nature of decision making in the SP as decisions have been repeatedly taken and changed by Mulayam, Shivpal and UP Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, in past few weeks. SP insiders say that this unpredictability stems from decisions being taken by members of one family only. “They take actions in their personal capacity during the day but change their position after meeting each other later in evening,” said a SP leader.
While Mulyam, Shivpal and Akhilesh publicly refute charges of a family feud and claim that the family and the party are united, other party leaders admit that the ongoing turmoil has left party workers confused. “Neither Ramgopal nor Amar Singh are mass leaders. Hence decisions on them will not affect the party. But the rift between Shivpal and Akhilesh has divided party workers into factions in almost every district,” said a party leader.
Ramgopal has alleged that election tickets were being distributed without Akhilesh’s knowledge. He has demanded that the CM’s consent must be taken in ticket distribution and Mulayam should declare Akhilesh as the party’s CM candidate for the assembly polls. Ramgopal made the demand after Mulayam had recently said that the party’s legislature would elect the CM after the elections.
The Opposition sees this as `drama’ to divert the attention of the people from the campaign of other political parties. BJP state spokesperson Chandra Mohan said, “SP is not a political organisation but a party of one family. Its top leaders are doing ‘nautanki’ (drama) to divert the voters from Akhilesh government’s failures.”
The habit of changing decisions over differences of opinion within the family had started in June when Shivpal announced the merger of eastern UP based Quami Ekta Dal (QED) of jailed MLA Mukhtar Ansari with the SP. That decision was rolled back after opposition from Akhilesh.
A week later Mulayam had appointed Rajya Sabha member Amar Singh as the party’s national general secretary, ignoring the opinions of both Ramgopal and Akhilesh who also opposed Mulayam’s decision to give him a Rajya Sabha ticket. Akhilesh and Ramgopal blamed Amar for the ongoing crisis in the party and had accused him of interfering in party affairs.
More recently, Shivpal announced that QED had once again been merged with the SP. Shivpal also invited QED president Afzal Ansari to the SP headquarters recently to discuss preparations for Mulayam’s public meeting in the QED’s home town of Ghazipur on November 23. It will be Mulayam’s first public meeting in the election campaign. It is still uncertain whether Akhilesh will attend that public meeting or not.
More differences surfaced when Mulayam removed Akhilesh from the post of state president and replaced him with Shivpal, a day after Akhilesh sacked two ministers Gayatri Prasad Prajapati and Raj Kishore Singh from his cabinet, reportedly on complaints of corruption. Akhilesh then stripped Shivpal of key portfolios. “But Mulayam saw to it that most of these key portfolios were restored to Shivpal and Prajapati was back in the cabinet, ignoring Akhilesh’s wishes,” said a SP leader.
Trouble continued as Shivpal expelled MLC Arvind Pratap Yadav, a nephew of Ramgopal, on charges of indiscipline. Shivpal also expelled Akhilesh loyalists leaders including MLCs Anand Bhadauriya, Sunil Yadav and Sanjay Lathar and later Ayodhya MLA Tej Pratap Pandey—who is also minister in the government. Shivpal recommended that Akhilesh remove Pandey from the cabinet but Akhilesh ignored him. Previously, Akhilesh had sacked Shivpal and his loyalist ministers Om Prakash Singh, Narad Rai and Shadab Fatima from the cabinet. Not expecting re-induction in the cabinet, Shivpal had vacated his official bungalow.
In a meeting at the party office on October 24, both Akhilesh and Shivpal had expressed their disagreements before Mulayam and other party workers. During the acrimonious exchanges, the CM had offered to resign but Mulayam had turned it down. Shivpal accused Akhilesh of planning the launch of a new party but Akhilesh had denied the charge.
On the party’s silver jubilee anniversary, Mulayam’s relative and RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav had tried to play peacemaker and brought Akhilesh and Shivpal together on the stage, raising their hands, asking Akhilesh to seek his uncle’s blessings and respect his elders. “By bringing Shivpal and Akhilesh together before you, I have proved there is no feud,” Lalu had declared.
But the feud appears to be continuing: on Wednesday, Shivpal skipped the inauguration of the Gomti Riverfront, a dream project of the CM that was developed under Shivpal’s supervision when he was Irrigation minister.