In quite a turnaround from Friday evening, Samajwadi Party (SP) supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav on Saturday revoked his decision to expel his son and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav and party general secretary and cousin Ramgopal Yadav with immediate effect.
The development unfolded after night-long deliberations between party strongman Azam Khan and Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Prasad Yadav.
Realism seems to have dawned upon Mulayam after the failure of his show of strength and the massive support Akhilesh received. Just 20 legislators and 60 others named as candidates to contest the assembly polls turned up at his call at the SP office in Lucknow.
In contrast, Akhilesh’s show of strength at his residence was attended by 200 of the 229 party MLAs, signalling a sunset for the party founder.
Sources in Lucknow told DNA that Azam Khan was angry at the developments that took place on Saturday at the residence of Shivpal Singh Yadav, Mulayam’s brother and the party’s state president, responsible for listing candidates for the forthcoming elections.
Both of them later went to the residence of Mulayam. Soon after the meeting, the revocation of the expulsion letters were announced.
“As per the directions of Netaji (Mulayam Singh Yadav), the expulsion of Akhilesh Yadav and Ram Gopal Yadav has been revoked with immediate effect,” Shivpal tweeted.
He said that the party will fight the 2017 assembly elections together to defeat communal forces. “We will all sit together with Netaji and I am sure all problems will be resolved,” Shivpal said.
Sources said that, at the SP meeting, Azam Khan told Mulayam that he must revoke Akhilesh’s expulsion. The Chief Minister’s camp has also demanded that Amar Singh be thrown out of the party, accusing him of instigating trouble between father and son.
Amar Singh, who is currently in London, said: “Netaji (Mulayam) has done the right thing, and, till I am alive, this party will not fall apart… I am not one for breaking the party but I am here to unite the party.”
On Friday, there was high drama outside Akhilesh’s residence when a large number of youths assembled to vent their fury over his expulsion. They tried to break the cordon outside the CM’s residence and clashed with police. They also exchanged blows with supporters of Shivpal Yadav outside party headquarters in the high security VIP zone.
Bihar strongman Lalu Prasad, who has good relations with the UP’s first family, also remained in constant touch with both father and son. He appealed them to bury the hatchet in the larger interest of the party.
After Friday night’s expulsion and an imminent split in the SP, rivals BSP, BJP and Congress were closely monitoring the developments to shore up their fortunes and agenda for the upcoming polls. The Congress was looking up to align with Akhilesh, in case he formed his own party.
“If need be to keep the BJP at bay, we wouldn’t mind an alliance with Akhilesh. The Congress is looking at a long-term relation with him, not just in the 2016 assembly polls but also the 2019 Lok Sabha polls,” a senior Congress leader said.
Incidentally, Akhilesh had said earlier that if the Congress and the SP join hands and fight the polls, it would win more than 300 seats in the 403-member House. However, Mulayam had ruled out such a pre-poll alliance.
Analysts say that, given the current developments, the loser could be Shivpal Yadav, who had taken on the Chief Minister several times in the past one year on behalf of family members who wanted to control the party.
Party sources from Lucknow told DNA that the convention called by Ramgopal Yadav on Sunday was supposed to appeal to Mulayam to continue to lead the party, but reexamine the list of candidates he had announced unilaterally.