Chaotic scenes prevailed at the Samajwadi Party (SP) meeting as the conflict between Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav and his uncle Shivpal Yadav grew heated. The News Nation carried visuals of the Shivpal Yadav, snatching the mic abruptly and accusing the Chief Minister of being a liar and claiming that he was told privately of Akhilesh’s plans to launch a new party.
Uncle vs. Nephew
Virendra Singh Rawat’s in depth article in Business Standard traces the Yadav family feud which began to play itself out in the public domain last month. There have been sporadic indicators involving criticism of Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav’s governance by uncle Shivpal and father Mulayam Singh Yadav. The Chief Minister was also opposed to the merger of the don-turned-politician Mukhtar Ansari's Quami Ekta Dal with the SP. He went on to drop his uncle from the Cabinet, took away many of his portfolios and later also sacked other ministers who were seen be close to the uncle.
Shivpal was able to avenge this after he was given the reins of the party, and made the state unit president. He went on to sack Akshilesh loyalists from the executive committee. According to the article, UP State General Secretary Ram Gopal Yadav, another brother of Mulayam, was also sacked after he questioned his refusal to name Akhilesh as the Chief Ministerial candidate.
SP national vice-president Kironmoy Nanda had to announce that Akhilesh remained the party’s official chief ministerial candidate for the polls. He claimed Mulayam was only referring to the procedure of electing the CM. On Sunday, Mulayam sacked Ram Gopal from the party for six years. Shivpal said he was accused of colluding with the BJP
Many believe that controversial leader Amar Singh is in fact one of the main reasons for the rift in the Yadav family. Pallavi Ghosh writes in News18 that Mulayam Singh has greatly benefitted from his relationship with Amar Singh.
It was Amar Singh who once gave an image makeover to Netaji. From being seen as head of a UP-based party with national ambitions but having no contacts, it was Amar Singh who introduced Mulayam to the glitter of Lutyens' Delhi.Amar Singh also added the glam factor to the Samjawadi Party. Mulayam began to be seen in Bollywood and in the company of big businessmen and film stars. Singh's good equation with netas across political parties did help Mulayam play an important role.
Amar Singh is thicker than blood— Abhijit Majumder (@abhijitmajumder) October 24, 2016
Even the party’s national General Secretary Azam Khan has blamed the feud on Singh. He has been quoted as saying
This is full blown war; this is handywork of Amar Singh as he hates Akhilesh Yadav: Sharat Pradhan, Senior Journalist #YadavVsYadav— NDTV (@ndtv) October 24, 2016
It is happening due to one single outsider who has penetrated into the ruling party's family and I have been apprising my colleagues about his detrimental presence in the party.
Whatever others within the party may say, the leader doesn’t seem ready to budge.
Reactions and the political fallout
Amar Singh is like my brother, he stood by me in my tough times; Mulayam Singh Yadav pic.twitter.com/1CxQnWxo5C— Doordarshan News (@DDNewsLive) October 24, 2016
Amar Singh did not want to comment, choosing instead to merely pledge his allegiance to Mulayam Singh.
India Today reported that most party leaders have chosen to remain silent on the issue and only a few have spoken out.
Former general secretary of the Samajwadi Party Manoj Kushreshtha told India Today that by removing Shivpal Yadav from the cabinet, Akhilesh has cleared the dirt from the government. A senior administrative officer told India Today that now the turn was of Shivpal supporter officials to be kicked out as most the officials in Mainpuri, Firozabad and Mathura are all Shivpal supporters.
According to Bikram Vohra’s article in The First Post, there will be no end in sight and as elections take place early next year, the fight may turn nastier.
For the next 90 days, Uttar Pradesh will be turned into a reality show-cum-soap opera with episode after ugly episode showing us the depressing defections, infights, grumblings, rumblings, slurs and insults that already mark the process even today. It is so bizarre that nobody wants to see the next coarse episode.By the time February comes along we will witness India’s biggest state almost reduced to a basket case in political terms with nothing at the electoral booth promising a cohesive and strong government for the future.
In the midst of all the drama, there is one party that is sure to benefit and that is the BJP.
There have already been calls from the BJP for the Chief Minister to resign and prove majority. According to The First Post,
Crises in Samajwadi party may make it easy for Muslims to move towards Mayawati and sections of yadavs towards BJP.— M K Venu (@mkvenu1) October 24, 2016
The BJP probably feels that its chances have improved in the wake of the Indian Army's surgical strikes across the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir. Along with this patriotic card, it has also decided to play the temple card by announcing the setting up of a Ram Museum, thereby seemingly plugging all the loopholes.
And Rawat’s article in Business Standard quoted earlier also reaches the same conclusion.
First, the fissure is too deep to mend in the SP, witnessing a generational shift in leadership. Second, the party has decided to rally behind Akhilesh for the polls, since he remains the best face in the party to project before the electorate. All said, the SP has already suffered immensely and is now perceived weaker in comparison to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP).
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