Until Monday, he was the SP heavyweight, the one who posed the most serious challenge to his nephew’s claim to the party crown. But the morning after the Election Commission awarded the cycle poll symbol of the SP to Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, Shivpal Yadav cut a lonely figure, deserted by the last of his loyalists.
Standing outside the Vikramaditya Marg residence of SP patriarch and brother Mulayam Singh Yadav, Shivpal only had a handful of supporters with him. Ticket hopefuls who walked up to him turned back disappointed when Shivpal told them: “Ticket hum nahin, Mukhya Mantri de rahe hain” (The Chief Minister is distributing the tickets, not I).
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His interactions were brief, suggesting his helplessness at the turn of events, the fact that he no longer had any “authority” left in the party. When some of the workers shouted “Shivpal Singh Yadav zindabad, Aditya bhaiyya(Shivpal’s son) zindabad”, Shivpal hushed them: “I will forward your applications to Netaji (Mulayam Singh) and the Chief Minister… Jisko bhi party ticket de, usko chunav ladana… aur jeetana (will be our job).”
He refused to speak to reporters, telling them he would do so in a day or two.
To all in Lucknow, it was clear that Shivpal was out in the cold at the end of the bitter family tussle for control of the party. Elated over the award of the party symbol, Akhilesh was making up with Netaji and there was talk that father and son were working on the distribution of poll tickets — Akhilesh said 90 per cent of the names in the lists they had drawn earlier were common.
Shivpal was no longer in the picture. His residence, where tight security would restrict entry, was an open house Tuesday — people walked in and out without being asked questions. Anyone who wanted to meet Shivpal could simply walk to the lawns where he waited.
No party leader was visible — in all these years, he was always surrounded by senior ministers, bureaucrats, businessmen and organisation leaders.
Loyalists like MLAs Om Prakash Singh, Narad Rai and Shadab Fatima, who were sacked from the cabinet by Akhilesh, were always with Shivpal. Not one was with him today.