The much-publicised patch-up in the Samajwadi Party first family has brought in its wake a much-anticipated purge. And with this, hopes of a lasting solution to the feud among family members – notably Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav and his uncle and senior minister Shivpal Yadav – have been almost dashed.
On Monday, Shivpal as state party president expelled seven Akhilesh-loyalists from the party, signaling a confrontation that has serious repercussions for the authority and image of the chief minister. The action came a day after the expulsion of party legislator Arvind Pratap Yadav, a nephew of party secretary-general Ram Gopal Yadav, and a former village head from Etawah, Akhilesh Kumar Yadav.
While these two were expelled on Sunday for their alleged involvement in land-grabbing and other activities, it was learnt that their role in orchestrating protests against Shivpal and Mulayam in the recent party dispute was the real reason for the action taken by Shivpal.
The seven party leaders expelled on Monday are Sunil Singh Yadav ‘Sajan’, Anand Bhadoria, Sanjay Lathar, Gaurav Dubey, Mohd Ebad, Brajesh Yadav and Digvijay Singh Dev. These leaders are said to be instrumental in organising demonstrations in favour of Akhilesh and protests against the party leadership during the days last week when the dispute had taken a serious turn. Mulayam himself had to appeal to them to shun these protests and even addressed them separately later. However, Shivpal has made it clear that he would not tolerate any act of “indiscipline” and also indicated that the action has Mulayam's consent.
Of these, Sunil Sajan, Anand Bhadauria and Sanjay Lathar are members of the Legislative Assembly, whereas Mohammad Ebad is the president of Mulayam Singh Yadav Youth Brigade, Samajwadi Yuvjan Sabha state president Brajesh Yadav, Samajwadi Yuva Vahini state president Gaurav Dubey and his Samajwadi Chhatra Sabha state president Digvijay Singh. Akhilesh happens to be the national convenor of all the four youth wings.
Incidentally, Sunil ‘Sajan’ and Sanjay Lathar had been suspended from the party earlier this year on the charges of not supporting party candidates in the Panchayat elections. Akhilesh had resented the action to the extent that he had stayed away from the then ongoing Saifai Mahotsav in Etawah. Later, however, the two were not only reinstated but were also nominated to the Legislative Council. These three youth leaders have played prominent role in the 2012 election campaign where Akhilesh extensively toured the state to drum up support for the Samajwadi Party.
The move is neither surprising nor the last as the truce fashioned by Mulayam in the family dispute in any case aimed at appeasing Shivpal to ensure the continuation of Akhilesh as chief minister come what may. Mulayam realises that it is only Akhilesh’s face as chief minister and Shivpal’s backbone support as the state party president that may position the Samajwadi Party as a front-runner in the 2017 state election. However, Shivpal clearly wants to extract the price from his new-found position of strength especially when Mulayam himself had a few days ago told a gathering of party workers and supporters that Akhilesh could not become the chief minister in 2012 if Shivpal had not worked hard for the party’s success.
The action has started having its repercussion as several members of the Samajwadi Yuvjan Sabha and Chhatra Sabha were reported to have resigned from the organizations and also from the party. There are reports from Lucknow, Allahabad, Agra and some other cities that students’ organizations owing allegiance to Samajwadi Party’s youth wings plan to stage protests against the sacking of youth leaders.
With today’s move, battle lines have been drawn afresh between Akhilesh and Shivpal over their respective powers. A couple of days ago, while talking to mediapersons, Akhilesh had sought to stress that he was a “player” of many sports and he did not score “self goals” because “politics is not a game, it is serious business.” Thus while Akhilesh seemed to assert that he had not lost much in the bargain and that all was well, Shivpal does not seem tothink so.
If the action by Shivpal attracts any counter-action by Akhilesh in the coming days, it won’t be surprising that the matter is referred back to patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav’s court.