Yadav vs Yadav: High drama in SP meeting, but happy ending eludes
Updated: Oct 25, 2016 04:22 IST
Police intervene after supporters of UP chief minister Akhilesh Yadav and UP state president Shivpal Singh Yadav clash near the party office in Lucknow on Monday. (PTI)
The stage was set. The actors played to the script, even beyond. There were fiery exchanges, some tears and even hugs as an impatient audience watched on. But, there was no happy ending.
Uttar Pradesh’s ruling Samajwadi Party was on Monday as divided as it was a day earlier. No sides showed signs of backing down, dealing a blow to chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, struggling to keep his party together as the bitter feud between his son and chief minister Akhilesh and younger brother Shivpal played out in public, again.
The signs were telling. Even before the party meeting called by Mulayam got underway, Akhilesh and Shivpal supporters clashed outside the venue.
Inside, Mulayam was unsparing in his criticism of Akhilesh, who was called a liar by Shivpal. Mulayam made it clear he would not let go either of Shivpal, thrown out of the cabinet by the CM on Sunday, or long-time aide Amar Singh, who Akhilesh wants out of the party.
“Power has gone to Akhilesh’s head. Shivpal is janta ka neta (people’s leader). Amar Singh is like my brother. Had Amar not helped me in DA case, I would have gone to jail,” he said.
Akhilesh refused to be cowed down, accusing his uncle and Singh of conspiring to dislodge him.
Though he made clear that Akhilesh would continue as the CM, Mulayam shouted his son down twice, once asking him to shut up and later asking him, “Tumhari haisiyat hi kya hai? (Who the hell are you?)”
The meeting was a desperate attempt by 76-year-old Mulayam to stamp his authority but the divide is looking increasingly unbridgeable.
Akhilesh said he was willing to quit but wouldn’t part ways. Shivpal insisted the CM had told him of plans to split the party.
“Why would I form a new party?” Akhilesh said.
SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav waves outside his residence at Vikramaditya Road after a party meeting in Lucknow. (HT Photo)
Earlier, Shivpal launched an all-out attack against Ramgopal Yadav, removed as party general secretary on Sunday, accusing him of corruption.
Ramgopal, who has backed Akhilesh in the power struggle, reaffirmed his support. “Without Akhilesh, the SP cannot win elections. My aim is to install him as the chief minister once again,” he said in Delhi later in the day.
Shivpal asked Mulayam to take over as the CM, complaining that officials ignored him at Akhilesh’s behest.
Mulayam seemed to agree with his brother. Akhilesh, he said, was surrounded by sycophants and warned if the BJP were to come to power, the SP’s fate would be sealed.
Both Akhilesh and Shivpal, who snatched the microphone from each other, defended themselves. But, it was clear that Mulayam was on Shivpal’s side.
Akhilesh, who was seen wiping tears on one occasion, addressed his father and said, “I will fight against wrong as you have taught me.”
After about one-and-a-half-hour of allegations and counter-allegations, it looked like that proceedings would end on an amicable note.
Prodded by Mulayam, Akhilesh and Shivpal hugged each other. Akhilesh even touched his uncle’s feet.
But then Mulayam said Muslims leaders had written to him that they were unhappy with the party.
It was because of the “Aurangzeb and Shahjehan report” planted in an English daily by Amar Singh, Akhilesh said, a reference to a new story in which the CM was likened to Mughal emperor Aurangzeb who dislodged his father.
Akhilesh pointed to MLC Ashu Malik, a Mulayam loyalist, and asked him to explain. But chaos followed.
Mulayam left the venue. So did Akhilesh and Shivpal, leaving the Samajwadi Party at crossroads as another round of expulsions saw 10 workers being thrown out of the party.