Uttar Pradesh’s ruling Samajwadi Party and the Yadav family are both united, party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav declared on Tuesday. But it became clear within minutes that infighting was far from over.
Minutes after Mulayam Singh made his claim, hundreds of Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav’s supporters laid a siege to the party office here, demanding that he be given back the reins of the party’s state unit ahead of next year’s assembly election.
This was shortly after the Samajwadi Party chief told the media: “Our family is united, the party is united… We stand united with full strength.”
It was Mulayam Singh’s first news conference after Akhilesh Yadav sacked his uncle Shivpal Yadav and three other ministers amid months of bitter power struggle in the party and the Yadav family.
Mulayam Singh was flanked by Shivpal Yadav, the new state unit chief of the party, and three other leaders expelled from the government. But the Chief Minister gave it a miss.
Mulayam Singh refused to answer many questions over the deep divide but had a stern message for his son, saying that in 2012 the party won a landslide because of him (Mulayam) but still Akhilesh Yadav was made the Chief Minister.
He, however, denied any possibility of replacing the Chief Minister before the next election and reiterated that the party legislators would elect their leader if it retained power.
Asked whether Shivpal Yadav and the other sacked leaders would return to the cabinet, Mulayam Singh said the decision was the Chief Minister’s.
Party sources told IANS that Akhilesh Yadav was reluctant to reverse his Sunday decision.
The sources also said Mulayam Singh had refused to give in to his son’s demands that Rajya Sabha member Ram Gopal Yadav, expelled from the party, be brought back and long-time Mulayam Man Friday Amar Singh thrown out.
Mulayam Singh defended Amar Singh, who was accused by Akhilesh Yadav of causing differences in the family and the party.
“Why drag him in all this? My family and party are united. All workers are united. There are some conspirators who do not have any mass base. There are no differences or ill feeling among our leaders,” he said.
As soon as the press conference ended, hundreds of Akhilesh Yadav supporters surrounded the party office, demanding that the Chief Minister be made the state party chief — a post he held earlier.
Young men, wearing red caps and some even wearing T-shirts with Akhilesh’s image embossed on them, climbed up on trees and demanded that Shivpal Yadav be removed from the post.
They said the future of the party lay in the hands of the 43-year-old son of Mulayam Singh.
Police personnel outside the party office on Vikramaditya Marg had a tough time controlling them as they tried to get near the gate, where the vehicles of the Samajwadi Party chief were parked.