No rift can stand in way if at stake is a state as large as Uttar Pradesh. Members of Samajwadi Party patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav’s family have been trying hard to prove this in the last two days. On Tuesday, the party was thrown into a turmoil when Mulayam’s son and UP CM Akhilesh Yadav dared to stand against his father.
Even as all members of Mulayam’s family, which constitutes of several lawmakers, always vow in the name of ‘Netaji’ (a term they use for Mulayam), Akhilesh indulged in a tit-for-tat action against the patriarch.
While Mulayam replaced Akhilesh with his younger brother Shivpal Yadav as the state head of SP, the UP CM curtailed Shivpal’s powers by taking away some of the key ministries from him. The rift between Akhilesh and Shivpal was brewing for several months.
On Wednesday, Akhilesh accepted that the governmental decisions were taken by him and Mulayam was not consulted. The UP CM continues to claim that ‘Netaji’ is the boss of the SP and that no one can go against his wishes. But the shrewd smile on his face, while talking to reporters in Lucknow, couldn’t hide the fact that he was not in the game to relent.
Akhilesh is still the CM of the state with a huge following within the party as well as in the bureaucracy and UP media, even as Shivpal is considered to have equally strong sway over the party machinery. In case there was a split, one can guess where all would have moved — with the ruler or the one who may never rule?
Tensions prevailed till today. Rumours of SP family split did the rounds on social media and even Akhilesh and Shivpal didn’t say anything concrete to keep the media away from making wild guesses.
All this while, however, Mulayam kept himself away from media — the tactics that seemed to have worked in his favour on Thursday as not only Shivpal justified Akhilesh’s action in his capacity as the CM of the state, but his other brother Ramgopal Yadav also said it was wrong to remove Akhilesh from the party’s state chief. Mulayam talked to media only to confirm that Shivpal will continue to remain the new SP state chief and claim that all would be well within the party soon.
Talking to reporters today, Shivpal said, “Allocation of portfolios is a CM’s prerogative. I won’t challenge his decision.”
Earlier in the day, Ramgopal had said: “Akhilesh would have himself resigned from SP state chief post if the party had asked him to quit in view of the Assembly elections and focus on the CM’s job.”
Shivpal hinted at arriving at a tense truce after he refused to take Akhilesh’s name directly when asked if he would support the latter as CM’s face for the upcoming polls. Shivpal said he would accept whatever party supremo Mulayam decides.
Interestingly, all this while, Mulayam remained stationed in New Delhi, while Akhilesh held the fort in Lucknow. Reports today said that Mulayam has left for Lucknow and may meet Akhilesh, another hint at who will relent and who won’t.
What is being considered by many as a rift between Akhilesh and Shivpal, seems more like a tension between the UP CM and Mulayam. And there are many reasons for that.
Since 2012, when Akhilesh took oath as the youngest UP CM, Mulayam has never lost an opportunity to take a potshot at his elder son. This is not surprising as in traditional families of UP and Bihar, a rift between the elder son and the father is a common thing. Mulayam and Akhilesh cannot be immune. The tensed truce may,however, fall apart if SP fails to win the state again.