Confining himself to canvassing in his constituency Jaswant Nagar in home district Etawah, former Samajwadi Party state president Shivpal Singh Yadav has been making direct or indirect references to the Yadav family feud, and reiterating that he “cannot tolerate the humiliation of Netaji” at every public meeting he addresses. Apart from his nephew and Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, Shivpal has also been targeting his cousin Ramgopal Yadav.
A four-term MLA from Jaswant Nagar, Shivpal has been camping in Jaswant Nagar for the past one week, holding public meetings across villages. “We won’t accept Netaji’s humiliation. whatever I am today is because of Netaji. All in SP are. But some people have forgotten this,” the sidelined leader said.
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Excluded from the list of party campaigners decided by Akhilesh, Shivpal still enjoys support from his brother and party patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav. According to Shivpal’s close aide and former party spokesperson Mohammad Shahid, Mulayam is likely to campaign for his brother in Jaswant Nagar on February 9. He had recently announced that he will campaign first for Shivpal and later for Akhilesh. Shivpal, however, has not yet decided whether to move out of his constituency to campaign for other candidates.
In an indirect reference to his nephew, Shivpal during a public meeting held on February 2 in his constituency said, “Jahan badon ka aadar samman nahin hota wahin maamla bigad jata hai…Jo insaan mehnat kar ke apna jeevan yapan karta hai use hi pata hota hai ki bade buzurgon ne kis prakar uska lalan palan kiya hoga….lekin jin yuvaon ko virasat me sab kuch mil jata hai wo apne bade buzurgon ka samman nahin karte…. aur yahi aaj kal jyadatar gharon me jhagde ka karana ban raha hai” (Where elders are not respected, things get problematic. Those who work hard know the struggle their elders went through while bringing them up. But those who have everything handed to them in the form of a legacy do no respect their elders, and this often becomes a reason for infighting among families).
On February 1, Shivpal had said that thousands had become MLAs, MLCs and ministers because of ‘Netaji’, but now insulted him. “Kuch log Samajwadi Party mein reh kar party ka nuksan kar rahe hain (there are a few who are damaging the party from within),” he had said. He had also appeal to the public to vote for him so that he could “reply to his opponents”.
The former state SP chief is also targeting a few Akhilesh loyalists presently in the Cabinet, saying that there are several ministers who do not work but had never faced action, while those who worked honestly had been sacked. Akhilesh had removed Shivpal and four other ministers from the Cabinet last year after the feud came to the fore. Since the day the senior SP leader filed his nomination papers, he has maintained that this is not an election, but a “dharm yuddha” (a battle of morals). The same day, he had also announced he would be floating a new party after election results are declared on March 11, and that he would campaign for candidates who had been denied tickets.
In past elections, Shivpal had been a significant face of the party and used to campaign for candidates across the state. He was SP’s star campaigner in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections as well.