On Thursday Shivpal Singh Yadav resigned from the Akhilesh Yadav's Uttar Pradesh cabinet and also quit as state party chief. This brought to light the Yadav family feud which has swiftly unfolded this week.
Akhilesh Yadav had on Tuesday stripped his uncle Shivpal from the plum posts of PWD, cooperative and irrigation minister. Shivpal who has remained an integral part of the party for over two decades was miffed by the decision and this escalated to a family feud.
So who is Shivpal Yadav and why is he important for the Samajwadi Party?
Shivpal Singh Yadav was born on Basant Panchami in 1955 in Etawah, Uttar Pradesh to Sughar Singh and Murti Devi. At a young age he was introduced to Uttar Pradesh's political movement by elder brother Mulayam Singh Yadav who was an impassioned follower of Ram Manohar Lohia. The turning point in Shivpal's life came when he went to a meeting presided upon by Lohia. Shivpal was heavily influenced by Lohia's principles and supported him in many future endeavours.
In 1974, he attended the Jain Inter College, Karhal Mainpuri (UP) to complete his intermediate course. He, then graduated from KK Degree College, Etawah (Kanpur University) in 1976 and went on to Lucknow University to pursue his Bachelor of physical education which he completed in 1977.
On 23 May, 1981 he married Sarla Yadav with whom he had two children — Dr Anubha Yadav who is a medical practitioner and Aditya Yadav who is politically active. Following Shivpal's altercation with Akhilesh, Aditya resigned from the chairman's post of Pradeshik Cooperative Federation.
In 1988, Shivpal was elected as the president of the district cooperative bank in Etawah and successfully completed his tenure in 1991. In 1995 he took over as the president of district panchayat. He contested elections in the 13th Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections from Jaswant Nagar and won by a huge margin. He was then appointed as general secretary of the Samjwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh. In 2009, when the then state president passed away, Shivpal was appointed the president of the UP Sawajwadi Party unit. He was also appointed as the Leader of the Opposition when Mayawati was the chief minister.
As Leader of the Opposition he fought on issues related to poverty and women empowerment. In 2012, when SP took the reins of Uttar Pradesh with a full majority, he was appointed the cabinet minister for departments like irrigation and PWD.
Shivpal's relevance in the Samajwadi Party
Many perceive Shivpal as a grass-roots leader who is very much in sync with the problems of the people of Uttar Pradesh. This also makes him an indispensable leader who might help Mulayam win the Assembly election in 2017. The Indian Express reported that even Mulayam believes that Shivpal's exit from the party would harm it in the 2017 UP Assembly Elections. On 15 August, while addressing party workers, he had said in the presence of Akhilesh, that the SP would split if Shivpal leaves.
According to reports, various SP members call Shivpal a 'cool-headed' leader. Shivpal, a four-term MLA from Jaswantnagar constituency, has played a major role in political alliances between Samajwadi Party and other parties. He played a significant role in advocating a merge of Quami Ekta Dal (QED) and SP. This merger was later called off by party's national parliamentary board, allegedly under pressure from Akhilesh. Some reports suggest that he also played a major role in the return of senior leader Amar Singh to the party. However he maintained that from re-inducting Amar Singh into the SP to experimenting with the 'Grand Alliance', he had always followed the directions of Mulayam.
He has never publicly opposed the decisions taken by Akhilesh or Mulayam even though he may have expressed difference of opinion to them in private.