Differences in the ruling Samajwadi Party (SP) once again came out in the open on Monday when Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav feigned ignorance about announcement of certain party candidates for the forthcoming assembly polls.
Giving rise to fresh speculations around the very public display of dissent within the Yadav family, Akhilesh Yadav on Monday said that he has given up his choice and say in the Samajwadi Party ticket distribution in the upcoming UP elections, reported CNN-News18.
— News18 (@CNNnews18) October 3, 2016
Akhilesh's comment came after CNN-News18 earlier reported that the party has decided to give the ticket to Madhumita murder case accused Amanmani Tripathi, son of Amarmani Tripathi. When asked to comment on the tainted leader's candidature, Akhilesh said that he has given up his say in the ticket distribution process.
Amarmani has come under public censure on several occassions before as his name came up as a prime accused in an extortion and abduction case in Gorakhpur and was also named in an FIR for a clash among Samajwadi party members, according to a report in The Indian Express.
Talking to reporters after inaugurating his new office in Lucknow, Akhilkesh Yadav, who is also the Chairman of the party's state parliamentary board, said: "I do not have idea about any list being released by the party." Asked, if he is not having a say in the distribution of tickets, Akhilesh chose to drop mysterious hints instead of openly stating anything. He said in the game of cards only he wins who has the ace!
When reporters sought to know his views on the candidature of Amanmani Tripathi, who is being probed as part of the another investigation by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) against his father Amarmani Tripathi, the Chief Minister said his views are known on such a subject.
He also said that "in politics, no one knows what will happen the next day" and referred to the resignation of Leader of Opposition in the state assembly Swamy Prasad Maurya from the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP).
Earlier in September, the Yadav family war became a public spectacle after Akhilesh Yadav, flexing his chief ministerial powers, stripped his uncle Shivpal Yadav of three major portfolios in the UP government. He had also sacked UP Chief Secretary Deepak Singhal, close aide of Shivpal. Following this, Akhilesh was sacked from the post of UP Samajwadi Party chief. In the resulting face-off, Shivpal trumped his nephew as he enjoyed the restoration of all his supporters, and was made the state party chief, while Akhilesh appeared with a bruised.
Party Supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav's decision to give the state chief post to his brother meant that Shivpal also grabbed the much-coveted power to hand out party tickets in the UP elections. Akhilesh's reaction after the news that Aman Tripathi will contest elections on SP ticket is being seen in this light. After the Samajwadi Party's repair mechanism kicked into action, a reunion of sorts was staged with Mulayam Singh Yadav asserting that there are no differences in the party. However, Akhilesh had to reinstate all the ministers he had earlier sacked and who were known to be close to Shivpal.
In a recent cabinet expansion, 10 new ministers were sworn-in, including the ministers charged with corruption Gayatri Prasad Prajapati, Manoj Pandey and Shivakant Ojha.
Akhilesh Yadav, who won public accolade for sacking the ministers, has been embarrassed by swearing-in of Gayatri Prajapati, whose re-induction in the state cabinet was announced by his father and Samajwadi Party chairman.
The expansion had a visible stamp of the old guards — Mulayam Singh Yadav and Shivpal Singh, as the duo has overturned the sacking of three ministers, including Gayatri Prajapati, who was accused of being involved in illegal mining and land grabbing. Prajapati took oath of the office and secrecy for the fourth time in the past three years.
The opposition was already quick to respond as BJP spokesperson Siddharth Nath Singh said, "If Akhilesh is a helpless person then we don't need such a chief minister." Commenting on Aman Tripathi's candidature, he also said that the Indian constitution doesn't allow criminals to fight polls.
Differences between Akhilesh and Shivpal have been reported on several occasions, including on the choice of the official to be appointed as the state's chief secretary after Alok Ranjan's term ended, and stalling of Qaumi Ekta Dal's merger with SP.
With inputs from agencies