The foundation stones have been shaken rather badly. The cracks in the wall are being papered over and may even be given a fresh coat of paint but despite all this, the Samajwadi edifice is crumbling. The latest fight in Uttar Pradesh’s ruling family is not helping the Samajwadi Party.
The five-day drama that began on Monday with the sacking of two ministers, Gayatri Prajapati and Raj Kishore Singh, continued on Tuesday with the sacking of UP chief secretary Deepak Singhal and finally snowballed into a crisis when SP president Mulayam Singh Yadav sacked Akhilesh Yadav from the post of the SP’s state president.
The same night, Akhilesh Yadav retaliated by stripping his uncle Shivpal Singh Yadav of key portfolios like PWD, revenue, irrigation and cooperative. Shivpal and his wife Sarla and son Aditya resigned from all posts they held in the party and the government and the SP was on the boil.
The family and party were already falling apart when Prof Ram Gopal Yadav, a cousin of Mulayam Singh Yadav, addressed a press conference in Lucknow and blamed Amar Singh for the crisis. Ram Gopal Yadav went off to his village Sefai after talking to the media, leaving the party in turmoil.
The crisis in the party apparently began with the sacking of Prajapati from the council of ministers. Prajapati is known to be an acolyte of Mulayam’s second wife Sadhana and her son Prateek. Prajapati’s sacking apparently led to the problems in the family. UP Chief Secretary Deepak Singhal, on the other hand, was known as a Shivpal Yadav loyalist and had attended a party thrown by Amar Singh in Delhi. His unceremonious removal triggered another family crisis.
As the situation tumbled out of control, Mulayam summoned Shivpal and Akhilesh to Delhi but the latter refused to take his calls which led to his removal from the state president’s post. “This is not a case of power play but family bickering, which is impacting the party. Akhilesh has a problem with his stepmother, stepbrother and all those who are close to them. The feelings are mutual. Shivpal shares a good equation with Amar Singh, while Ram Gopal Yadav cannot accept Amar Singh’s return to the party fold. Therefore, Ram Gopal is on the same page as Akhilesh where Amar Singh is concerned. It is these complicated relationships that are giving rise to this turmoil,” said an insider.
Shivpal’s relationship with Akhilesh started to sour about two years ago when the Chief Minister stopped taking advice from his uncle and began depending on his non-political friends and bureaucrats. Shivpal, on several occasions, confided to party leaders that his nephew did not heed his advice and did not give him due importance. The tension in the relationship reached a flashpoint in June when Mulayam asked Shivpal to announce the merger of Qaumi Ekta Dal into the SP and Akhilesh, four days later, forced the decision to be reversed. The relationship became so strained that Akhilesh would not even entertain ministers and legislators who shared a rapport with Shivpal. “We are still wary of getting re-nominated for the Assembly polls because Akhilesh has told us to ‘go to chacha’ whenever we have met him with some work. Mulayam Singh Yadav may have forced a temporary truce, but things are bound to come to a head again, perhaps when tickets are finalised by the party,” said an SP MLA.