The ruling Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh is in a critical care unit and reports of the past one week present a grim picture. The rift in the family has deepened to an unimaginable extent. A Cabinet expansion has left no one pleased and as the bickering is put on public display, UP Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav has gone to London to celebrate his birthday with his immediate family and friends.

Senior SP MP Prof Ram Gopal Yadav’s 70th birthday celebrations in Lucknow were aimed at showing off the growing stature of the leader. The birthday magnum opus, however, turned into a political thriller that showcased the deepening rift in the first family.

UP minister Shivpal Singh Yadav, who has been sulking after being blamed for the Qaumi Ekta Dal’s (QED) merger into the Samajwadi Party (the merger that was later called off on the insistence of Akhilesh Yadav and Prof Ram Gopal Yadav), made a delayed entry into the birthday celebrations and chose a quiet seat for himself among the audience.

He preferred to sit in the back row until Amar Singh held his hand and brought him to the front row. The newspaper headlines, the following day, spoke of the evident rift in the family instead of the birthday celebrations. Hours later, when Akhilesh and his wife and children jetted off to London, SP MLAs trooped in to meet Shivpal at his residence and assured him of their support.

The merger with the Qaumi Ekta Dal (a party which also has mafia don turned politician Mukhtar Ansari), meanwhile, has left a series of unpalatable consequences for the Samajwadi Party. According to sources, Muslims in over a dozen districts in eastern UP are upset with the Samajwadi Party for insulting the Ansari brothers. “No one went begging to the Samajwadi Party for the merger. They wanted our votes for Rajya Sabha and Vidhan Parishad and then it was Mulayam Singh who insisted on the merger. What has happened later is downright humiliating,” said Afzal Ansari, president of QED.

Junaid Shakeel, a student from Mau district, echoed similar sentiments and said, “The Muslims in eastern UP will avenge this humiliation in the upcoming Assembly elections.” Interestingly, the QED fiasco which led to the sudden dismissal of UP minister Balram Yadav, who reportedly facilitated the merger, had left the Yadavs angry too. Visuals of the dismissed minister shedding tears on national TV have led to outrage in the community. “Akhilesh had no business to dismiss him. Lesser Yadavs cannot be treated like dirt,” said one of his supporters.

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