December 17, 2021 3:04:35 am
Five years after a bitter family feud led to the parting of ways, Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Akhilesh Yadav on Thursday met uncle Shivpal Singh Yadav at the latter’s residence in Lucknow and announced that his party would contest the UP Assembly elections in alliance with Pragatisheel Samajwadi Party (Lohia).
The two leaders formally had a one-to-one meeting to draw a common election strategy almost five years after a tussle for supremacy in the Samajwadi Party kicked off a feud that was seen as one of the key factors for the party’s defeat in the 2017 Assembly elections. While Akhilesh went on to take over the mantle of the party from his father and party patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav, Shivpal, on the other hand, formed his own party – Pragatisheel Samajwadi Party (Lohia).
On Thursday, Akhilesh reached his uncle’s residence, which is barely 400 metres from Akhilesh’s residence on Vikramaditya Marg in Lucknow. Sources said that Akhilesh touched the feet of Shivpal and sought his blessings. During an hour-long stay there, Akhilesh had a 20-minute closed-door meeting with Shivpal.
After the meeting, Akhilesh tweeted a photograph with Shivpal and wrote in Hindi: “Had a meeting with PSP national president and decided to form an alliance. The policy of taking regional parties along is strengthening the Samajwadi Party, and the SP and its allies are heading towards a historic victory.”
So far, the SP has tied up with three small parties — Suheldeo Bharatiya Samaj Party (SBSP), Mahan Dal, and Janwadi Socialist Party, each having a sphere of influence among non-Yadav OBC castes. The party has also forged an alliance with Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD), a party with a strong support base among the farmers and Jats in west UP.
The poll alliance with Shivpal’s party is expected to consolidate the SP’s hold over its traditional Yadav votes.
Shivpal, a five-term MLA, had contested the 2017 Assembly election on SP symbol and was elected from Jaswantnagar in Etawah district.
In the past year, as both Akhilesh and Shivpal began preparations for the next year’s Assembly polls, there were reports of a possible merger of PSP (Lohia) with the SP. On some occasions, Shivpal had also hinted that he was ready for alliance but alleged“delay in response from Akhilesh’s side”.
Shivpal was a Cabinet minister in the previous Akhilesh Yadav government and was considered the second-most powerful minister in the government. He was also considered the second-most influential leader in SP after party founder and his elder brother Mulayam Singh Yadav.
On September 13, 2016, the family turf war in the SP deepened after Akhilesh, as chief minister, divested Shivpal of all ministerial portfolios. This after Shivpal replaced him as SP state unit president on the direction of Mulayam Singh Yadav.
Shivpal’s appointment as the state unit chief had increased his role in party decisions ahead of the 2017 elections. Shivpal had then backed the merger of Quami Ekta Dal (QED) of Mukhtar Ansari with the SP. But the merger was called off by the SP parliamentary board, allegedly under pressure from Akhilesh. As the feud continued, Shivpal sacked seven party leaders, including three MLCs and chiefs of frontal organisations, for their “derogatory remarks” against Mulayam. All seven were considered Akhilesh loyalists.
On December 30, 2016, the family feud reached a tipping point as then party chief Mulayam expelled Akhilesh and SP general secretary Ramgopal Yadav from the party for six years on charges of “gross indiscipline”. The action against Akhilesh had come a day after he put out his own list of 235 candidates, including many who did not figure in the list issued by Mulayam, a day earlier.
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