Differences within the ruling Samajwadi Party’s top leadership came to fore as the party’s Central Parliamentary Board Saturday called off its merger with gangster-turned-politician Mukhtar Ansari’s Qaumi Ekta Dal (QED), just three days after it was announced.
Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav was not happy with the merger and had made it clear on June 21 when he said that “if party workers perform their responsibilities, then there will be no need of another party”.
On Saturday, he publicly vented his unhappiness while speaking to a news channel: “Mukhtar Ansari will not be welcome in the party. We don’t want such people in the party.”
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The SP also decided to reinduct the state’s Secondary Education Minister Balram Yadav, who was sacked by the CM, apparently for facilitating the SP-QED merger. Besides sacking Balram, the CM was also understood to have been upset with state Prisons Minister Balwant Ramoowalia, who had reportedly ordered Mukhtar Ansari’s transfer from Agra prison to Lucknow jail.
Ansari was lodged in Agra jail in connection with BJP MLA Krishnanand Rai’s murder in 2005. Akhilesh had similarly taken a tough stand on the inclusion of mafia-turned-politician D P Yadav before the 2012 elections. But Akhilesh later described the merger with QED as an “internal matter” of the party and said he was not displeased with it.
After the meeting of the party’s supreme policy making body Saturday afternoon, SP’s national general secretary Ramgopal Yadav admitted that the merger of QED and SP and the dismissal of Balram Yadav from the Cabinet were “interconnected”. He, however, refused to elaborate.
Balram Yadav was called to the party’s state headquarters, about an hour after the meeting began there. “The CM was unhappy because the decision (of the merger) was against his wishes. Such things happen in each family and every political party,” Ramgopal said, adding that there were “no differences now”.
Ramgopal confirmed that Balram Yadav will be reinducted during the Cabinet expansion, scheduled for June 27. Balram is considered close to SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav and hails from his Lok Sabha constituency, Azamgarh. This would perhaps be the last reshuffle of Akhilesh’s council of ministers (and seventh since he assumed office in 2012) ahead of the Assembly elections early next year.
The parliamentary board also decided that the chief minister, who is also the SP state unit president, will take out a ‘Samajwadi Vikas Rath Yatra’ across the state to highlight the government’s achievements. Mulayam will also reconstitute the party’s national executive soon, while a meet of the executive committee members will be called in Lucknow later, Ramgopal added.