After Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Mulayam Singh Yadav dropped a bombshell, expelling his son and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav on Friday evening, all eyes are now on the party’s one-day national convention on Sunday.
Mulayam also expelled his cousin and party general secretary Ramgopal Yadav for calling the emergency session of delegates, and accused him of “spoiling the career of the chief minister.” The SP chief said both Akhilesh and Ramgopal have been sacked for weakening the party and stated that his son didn’t even consulted him on state matters.
In a fight to the finish, Mulayam and his brother Shivpal Yadav have summoned a meeting of party MLAs on Saturday and those named as candidates. Both factions of the Yadav family are vying to entice as many MLAs as they can to strengthen the party. “This expulsion is unconstitutional,” said Ramgopal, alleging that of late, the SP has made a practice of ignoring its playbook. “Half an hour after we were given notice, we were expelled. Even a criminal is given a chance to explain,” said a disgruntled Ramgopal.
Party sources from Lucknow told DNA that the convention will appeal to Mulayam to continue to lead the party, but relook the list of candidates he had announced unilaterally on Wednesday and also revoke the decision to expel the Chief Minister. The list, announced by Mulayam, has several candidates backed by Shivpal whose candidacy had been fiercely opposed by Akhilesh. This included gangster-turned-politician Atiq Ahmed, who faces 44 serious criminal charges — including murder.
Defying the party and his father, Akhilesh released his own rebel list on Thursday of 235 candidates. One of them included Rita Bahuguna Joshi. Formerly with the Congress before she switched to the BJP, Joshi is the MLA from Lucknow Cantt constituency.
The party’s senior leader Madhukar Jaitley described the situation as “unfortunate”. He said a situation was unprecedented where a father, also the founder of the party, was compelled to expel his son. SP spokesperson Gaurav Bhatia said there was still room for reconciliation, but expressed concern at the move coming at a time when the state was on the verge of elections.
Saturday will be a crucial day for the Mulayam and Shivpal camps, party sources said. The majority of MLAs have so far reposed their faith in the Chief Minister.
On October 28, Akhilesh had mustered the support of 190 MLAs out of SP’s 229 against his uncle Shivpal. Besides legislators, the majority of party leaders as well owe allegiance to the Chief Minister, as they see him as the future of the party. Immediately after the decision, reports from Lucknow said workers thronged Akhilesh’s official residence, shouting slogans against Shivpal. Over 100 MLAs reached Akhilesh’s house to express support. There were also shouts of self-immolation as the crowds turned emotional.
With elections now so close, there is hardly any possibility of the party replacing the Chief Minister now. In case of a majority of MLAs expressing a no-confidence motion, Akhilesh may be allowed to continue as caretaker. Otherwise, the state will move towards the imposition of President’s rule. Sources in Raj Bhawan said Governor Ram Naik is keeping a close eye on the developments, but, so far, no communication has been made to him from either the Mulayam or Akhilesh camp.
Denying speculations that Akhilesh will resign, his loyalist Gomti Yadav said the CM will stay on till his last day in power.
Already other parties are moving in to align forces. West Bengal CM and Trinamul Congress (TMC) chief Mamata Banerjee called up Akhilesh and offered support, saying “you are like my brother.” Congress leader Jayanta Prasad is already mediating between Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi and Akhilesh for a possible electoral tie-up.
While UP’s ruling party has been headed for a split for some time now, the break point came after Ramgopal called an emergency convention of the party in defiance of the party chief. This came after Mulayam issued a show-cause notice to his son, asking him why disciplinary action should not be taken against him for releasing a parallel list of candidates, which include several party leaders close to him and who did not make it to the official list released by his father a day before. Akhilesh’s list include 187 candidates who have also featured in his father’s list.
The Chief Minister’s defiant move was seen as a last-ditch effort to pressure his father into reconsidering the candidacy of his key aides after they failed to reach common ground at a meeting in Lucknow. In recent months, Akhilesh has engaged in a bitter power tussle with Shivpal, who is the party’s UP chief. Notably, Shivpal was present next to Mulayam, when he announced the expulsion of Akhilesh.
The SP’s internal battle gives an added advantage to the BJP and Mayawati’s BSP in the mega battle being touted as the semi-final before the general elections in 2019. Elections to UP’s 403 assembly seats are expected to be announced by the Election Commission any day now.
The battle, which had been festering for over a year, had been triggered by Shivpal to control the party. This was resisted by Akhilesh, mentored by Ramgopal, his father’s cousin. Akhilesh has contended with a constant undermining of his decisions by Mulayam, under the alleged influence of Shivpal. Among the initiatives which his father thwarted include the lobbying for an alliance with the Congress for state elections, and a request to shun politicians with criminal backgrounds as candidates.
Battle between the bahus
It is not just the father and son who are locked in a political battle. It is also a battle between the daughters-in-law. Aparna, wife of Mulayam’s second son Prateek, has stood by uncle Shivpal against Akhilesh’s wife Dimple, who is also an MP. Aparna had recently been handed a ticket from Lucknow Cantt. With the situation getting uglier between the father and the son, theories about the rift continue to emerge. Akhilesh’s supporters allege that Sadhna Gupta, the party chief’s second wife, and the Chief Minister’s stepmother, has instigated him against his eldest son. Now, with his expulsion, Akhilesh, Aparna and Sadhna are vying to become the youth face of the SP. Who will win the political games now remains to be seen.
UP Caste Composition in 2016
Dalits (Scs) 21.1%
Tribals (Sts) 0.8%
Forward Caste 16%
Out of OBCs
KUSHWAHA (MAURYA, SHAKYA, KOERI, KACHHI, SAINI) 4%
Kurmi – 3%
Other OBCs (including Sunars, few Muslim OBCs) -20%
Jatavs Dalits -9%
Non-Jatav Dalits (includes Pasis, Mallah and Valmikis) -11%