Mulayam Singh Yadav and his comrade-in-arms brother Shivpal Yadav today skipped the Samajwadi Party’s national executive where Akhilesh was re- elected as the party president. However, while Akhilesh was the cynosure of all eyes, his father and party founder Mulayam Singh was on everyone’s lips. The absence of 77-year-old Mulayam and Shivpal was the talking point among the delegates assembled here for the two- day national executive meeting and national convention of the SP, which began here today. Mulayam’s absence was more pronounced given the fact that Akhilesh had personally met him in Lucknow before the Agra meeting to extend an invitation for gracing the occasion. Speaker after speaker, including Akhilesh, referred to the absence of Mulayam from the event.
“I requested ‘netaji’ (Mulayam) to attend the convention. Everyone would have liked it (his presence),” said Akhilesh, the former Uttar Pradesh chief minister, in his address. “I talked to him (Mulayam) yesterday and today also before coming to the convention. I told him that it a big convention and amendments in the party constitution will also be passed and without your blessings the party cannot progress,” he said. Akhilesh said Mulayam “has given blessings to all of us” over phone and wished that the party is strengthened in UP and throughout the country. There was even a reference to Shivpal, Akhilesh’s uncle. Akhilesh and Shivpal have been at loggerheads since the family feud broke out in January this year. Apparently to send a message of all-is-well in the Yadav clan, Akhilesh had yesterday said that his estranged uncle Shivpal blessed and congratulated him over telephone.
“I have got the benefit of my age and our relation. He (Shivpal) gave me blessings and congratulated me also,” Akhilesh said. In fact, Mulayam was missed so much that rumours kept floating till the eleventh hour that he will be turning up any time. Senior SP leader Azam Khan, in his speech, took the audience down the memory lane recalling how the party was formed by Mulayam in 1992 in which he had the “honour of proposing and declaring” his name as the party president. “I want to tell you that at a meeting in 1992, I was crying and ‘netaji’ (Mulayam) told me that it was not the time to do so and he should be ready for the fight,” he said. Another senior leader Kironmay Nanda also recalled the time when the party was formed under the leadership of Mulayam. “Netaji will remain leader of all the socialists. I talked to him today and he said my blessing is with you and you also bless Akhilesh,” Nanda said.
Rajya Sabha member Jaya Bachchan said, “We were with ‘netaji’ and Samajwadi Party and will remain so. He used to say ‘encourage youths’ and today we have got a youth leader.” Party leader and former minister Arvind Singh Gope also mentioned Mulayam in his address and said that they (party workers) will be strengthened with blessings of Netaji. Dimple Yadav, MP and wife of Akhilesh, also thanked Mulayam and said, “Blessings of netaji are there with the SP resident (Akhilesh), me and the entire party. I thank him for that.” On the dias there was a photograph of Mulayam along with Akhilesh and other leaders. In Agra city too, SP’s hoardings had his photographs while brother Shivpal was not seen in any of the hoardings, banners and posters.