Two days after launching the Samajwadi Secular Morcha, Shivpal Yadav on Friday announced that the Morcha would contest all 80 seats in Uttar Pradesh in the Lok Sabha elections.
SP founder-member Shivpal also claimed that he had formed the Morcha with the blessings of SP patriarch and his elder brother Mulayam Singh Yadav, who is “patron” of the new outfit.
Shivpal made the announcement while addressing Rashtriya Ekta Sammelan, organised by his supporters at Budhana in Muzaffarnagar district. Later, speaking to The Indian Express over phone, Shivpal confirmed that the Morcha would contest all 80 seats.
He targeted his nephew, SP president Akhilesh Yadav, for allegedly ignoring him, and said that SP’s principal general secretary Ram Gopal Yadav had not kept the promise of appointing him (Shivpal) as general secretary. “I met professor sahab (Ram Gopal) three times. He had assured me of being appointed general secretary,” Shivpal said.
“Samajwadi Secular Morcha will contest all 80 seats to defeat the BJP. We will approach smaller parties and unite them. Will unite Gandhiwadi, Lohiawadi, Chaudhary Charan Singh-wadi and others who are neglected and not getting respect,” Shivpal said.
When asked if the Morcha could weaken SP too, Shivpal said, “I was waiting for two years. SP’s eyes were supposed to open. And I have formed the Morcha with the blessings of Netaji.” On the role of Mulayam in the Morcha, Shivpal said, “Netaji is sanrakshak (patron).”
Mulayam visited the SP state headquarters in Lucknow on Thursday and Friday.
Shivpal also claimed that Akhilesh did not contact him even after he announced the Morcha. “The intentions of people in the SP are not pure. Wouldn’t they have spoken to me if their intentions were pure?” he said. When asked about Akhilesh, Shivpal said that his intentions were also not pure.
Asked how long he would stay in the SP, Shivpal said, “Till I am kept in SP by the party leadership.”
Shivpal’s decision to field candidates in Lok Sabha polls could pose a challenge for the SP, which has decided to tie up with the BSP and RLD to take on the ruling BJP.
Shivpal’s relations with his cousin Ram Gopal and nephew Akhilesh soured in September 2016 in the run-up to 2017 Assembly elections when Mulayam replaced him with his son as state party chief. Akhilesh stuck to his guns and released his list of candidates for UP, overruling Mulayam and Shivpal in December 2016. Mulayam retaliated by expelling Akhilesh and Ram Gopal from the party for “gross indiscipline”. During the tussle, Akhilesh, who was then Chief Minister, divested Shivpal of key cabinet portfolios. He effected a virtual coup and replaced his father as party chief and expelled Shivpal from the party.
Both sides appeared to have reached a truce after the party’s defeat in the Assembly elections. However, Shivpal’s announcement of the Morcha seems to have ended the truce.