The expulsion of Sunil Singh Sajan and Anand Bhadauria, regarded as loyalists of Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, has brought out into the open differences within the Yadav family.
While, the two youth leaders did not hold any important posts, their status as part of ‘Team Akhilesh’ made them a force to reckon with. Their expulsion from the party has surprised many as it is the first time that leaders so close to Akhilesh have been targetted.
Sajan and Bhadauria, who graduated from student politics and eventually earned the tag of being ‘close’ to Akhilesh, were often envied by senior leaders. In the past, action has been taken against loyalists of other SP leaders like Ramgopal, Shivpal and even Mulayam’s kin who were legislators but none of them were made a prestige issue within the Yadav family.
This time, however, Akhilesh seems to have put his foot down as the action against the two youth leaders is seen as a direct attack on him.
After their expulsion on December 25, Akhilesh did not attend the inaugural ceremony of Saifai Mahotsav on December 26 which is an emotional event for the Yadav family as it is held in memory of Akhilesh’s cousin late Ranveer Singh Yadav.
The next day, he was to inaugurate the Indian Grameen Cricket League in Saifai Mahotsav but he did not show up. On December 28, Dharmendra Yadav and Tej Pratap Singh Yadav, MPs, reached Lucknow and met Akhilesh for a closed door meeting which was also attended by Shivpal Yadav. What transpired between the meeting remains secret but with the ongoing tussle, Akhilesh’s absence might have come up for discussion as the event is held in memory of Tej Pratap’s late father.
For Akhilesh, who has often faced a tongue-lashing from Mulayam over his government, it was time to give a message clearly to the workers of the SP that he will not tolerate decisions affecting his close aides.
Mulayam Singh Yadav’s family is now India’s largest political. Several members of Mulayam’s clan have entered politics and each has groomed their own loyalists. With power also comes power struggles and these have gripped the SP in recent times. There are separate groups of supporters for every leader in the Yadav family–Akhilesh Yadav, Ramgopal, Shivpal, Mulayam and even Aparna Yadav who is yet to formally enter politics. No one is openly pitted another but the clout wielded by their respective supporters, indicates a hidden battle for upmanship in the family.
Directly, they may never cross each other but indirectly — through their supporters which include both political workers and even officials — each one tries to assert himself or herself. Mulayam, being the supremo, takes decisions which often hurt the interests of supporters of another leader from his family. However, all the family members understand the limits of stretching the internal battle so that their interests are served and the party survives.
There have been hundreds of posts on social networking sites warning Akhilesh to be cautious of those who want to weaken him by indirectly attacking his loyalists. Akhilesh seems to realize the importance of the situation and has for the first time reacted openly.
His reaction also indicates that things have gone too far in SP’s family politics. For Akhilesh, a tough stand was required to make it clear that even any indirect attack on him will not be tolerated.