According to reports, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister and newly appointed ‘National head’ of Samajwadi Party Akhilesh Yadav is expected to go and meet his father today. The UP CM will be going to the meeting after effectively pulling off a ‘coup’ to unseat Mulayam as the head of the party that he himself created decades ago and which he has led successfully as the chief minister in earlier stints in power in Lucknow and thereafter as its President. In the wake of Mulayam no longer being the authoritative force in the party over the last 12 months, a tussle for power had led to the emergence of various factions in SP looking to come out on top. Despite Mulayam’s interjection, things deteriorated. In the tussle for supremacy in the party 2 top factions had emerged. While one was led by Mulayam’s brother Shivpal, the other was led by Akhilesh and cousin of Mulayam, Ramgopal Yadav. Mulayam himself was seen sitting in Shivpal’s corner throughout. Another top leader Azam Khan has not reacted to events and is perceived to be sitting on the fence till the more stronger faction wins – he is the Muslim face of the SP.
Akhilesh is expected to try and wean Mulayam over to his side of the fence and leave Shivpal isolated in the party. The SP rank and file is devoted to Mulayam and will be taking cues from that. The youth in SP is already with Akhilesh. Despite unseating Mulayam, looking to appear conciliatory, Akhilesh Yadav, took pains to indicate his respect for Mulayam as his father as well as the leading light in SP, he said, “For us, Netaji’s position in our hearts is the highest and of the greatest importance of them all. I will respect Netaji forever. Samajwadi Party will come back to power with full majority after the Uttar Pradesh elections. Samajwadi Party again setting up its government in Uttar Pradesh will bring the greatest of happiness to Netaji.” He still sent a dire warning to Mulayam and Shivpal supporters and said. “If there is a conspiracy being fomented against Netaji, then it is my duty as his son to take up the responsibility to unveil the conspiracy before everyone. Some people in the party did not want to see Samajwadi Party to come back to power. We have taken account of that and worked to defeat their purpose.”
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Expectations are that Mulayam will have no option but abandon brother and trusted lieutenant Shivpal to go with son Akhilesh in the meeting today. Reports citing his ill-health indicate that Mulayam may well have all options taken away from him as the rank and file as well as most of his senior party leaders are set to jump on Akhilesh bandwagon. Reason may not just be that Akhilesh has shown he has leadership qualities through successfully conducting the SP National Executive meeting in Lucknow itself, but also for the fact that he has a good development record as chief minister. He has shown that he has a massive support base in party too. Most of all, Shivpal is seen as a political strongman given to satisfying his whims and fancies and who allowed law and order in the state to deteriorate giving opposition the opportunity to corner the party with accusations of jungle raj. His image is not one of a development-oriented leader either, far from it, in fact.