Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav has chosen to downplay the rift within his family. On Wednesday morning after stripping his uncle Shivpal Yadav of key ministerial positions, the Samajwadi Party scion said, “…there may be problems in the government, but not in the family… As far as family is concerned, everyone abides by what netaji (Mulayam Singh Yadav) says and accept his words.”
Despite Akhilesh’s assurance, the fact remains that there is an all-out war in the Yadav clan. And the crisis comes just a few months ahead of the Assembly polls which are scheduled to be held in early 2017. What makes it worse is that the tension unfolds during the midst of ticket distribution for the upcoming polls and this could severely dent the party’s prospects in Uttar Pradesh.
On Tuesday, Akhilesh stripped his uncle Shivpal Yadav of key ministerial portfolios just hours after he was removed as the party’s state unit chief by his father Mulayam Singh. Not just that, Mulayam also appointed Shivpal in Akhilesh’s place as the head of the party in the state.
Even as the media reported that Akhilesh was rebelling against his father and party chief Mulayam, the young Yadav made it clear that all was not good.
“If I have taken any decision, it was in consultation with ‘netaji’, but at times one has to apply his own mind and I too took some decisions on my own,” said the young CM on Wednesday morning.
A more restraint Shivpal Yadav said that he would abide by any decision taken by the party supremo Mulayam Singh.
“It is the discretion of CM to give (or take) portfolios and remove officers and keep his advisors. I will follow netaji’s directions and will fulfil responsibilities given by him,” Shivpal told reporters at Saifai, Mulayam’s native village just before flying to Delhi.
Hundreds of Shivpal supporters had gathered outside his residence in Saifai to express solidarity with him as speculation was rife that he might resign.
Meanwhile, Mulayam hurriedly called for a meeting with Shivpal and Ram Gopal Yadav in Delhi to take stock of the situation after the open war.
The Mulayam family has been dogged by serious differences but the matter reached a flash point on Tuesday after CM Akhilesh shunted out Chief Secretary Deepak Singhal, who was considered as his uncle Shivpal Yadav’s favourite.
In a tit-for-tat action, Mulayam took away the post of UP Samajwadi Party chief from his son Akhilesh, perhaps to pacify Shivpal.
But again, within hours Akhilesh hit back by clipping his uncle’s wings by removing him from key portfolios – PWD, Irrigation and Cooperative.
It is no secret that Shivpal has harboured chief ministerial ambitions since 2012 when he was overlooked by Mulayam, who instated his son Akhilesh as the chief minister.
Of late, Akhilesh has been focusing on sprucing up the image of his government. He recently overturned his father’s decision of a merger with Quami Ekta Dal (QED). Shivpal was said to have overseen the merger of gangster-politician Mukhtar Ansari’s QED with Samajwadi Party. But Akhilesh was adamant that the merger be called off because he wanted to maintain his clean image.
Earlier too, Akhilesh had opposed the inclusion of DP Yadav in the party ahead of the 2012 Assembly polls.