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Mulayam Singh Yadav denies any plans to launch new party 'as of now', criticises Akhilesh's poor governance

Former Samajwadi Party supremo  Mulayam Singh Yadav again managed to fool members of the media who flocked his press conference on Monday expecting that the veteran socialist leader will float a new party of his own. To the dismay of the media, Mulayam did what he has been doing since the run-up to the Uttar Pradesh Assembly Elections — publicly slam his 'rogue' son Akhilesh Yadav. Speculations were abound when sources told the media on Sunday that the SP patriarch is likely to announce a new outfit on Monday along with the virtually defunct Lok Dal, and retain the 'samajwadi' tag in its name.

On Monday, however, Mulayam in a not-more-than-15-minute-long press conference, attacked the former chief minister's actions and condemned the violence unfolding in Varanasi's Banaras Hindu University (BHU).

Attacking the Akhilesh-led government for not fulfilling the promises, Mulayam said, "None of the promises made by the government were fulfilled in three years of its governance. Petrol-diesel prices skyrocketted.

Allaying rumours that the former SP chief will float a new party, Mulayam said, "I am not forming a new party as of now."

The hint of an imminent split in the SP came on Saturday when Mulayam and his brother-aide Shivpal Yadav stayed away from a state convention of the party — which they had founded 25 years ago — saying they were not invited.

Even as the SP prepared for the convention, sources said the two brothers pondered over formation of a secular front under the banner of Lok Dal, hinting fresh differences in the party. The party has been weakened already by the factional feud, which proved to be its nemesis in the Assembly polls earlier this year.

The strains were palpable ahead of its state and national convention, with Mulayam replacing Akhilesh Yadav-loyalist Ram Gopal with Shivpal Yadav as the secretary of the Lohia Trust.

Shivpal had announced in June that he would float the Samajwadi Secular Front "to fight communal forces". "As there is no sign of any truce, it is a crucial time for Shivpal to decide his future course," a close confidant of Shivpal said.

Asked about Singh's claims that the two brothers will work under the banner of Lok Dal, another Shivpal-loyalist said, "Mulayam may not like to shun the Samajwadi tag. The situation will be clear tomorrow when netaji (Mulayam) will disclose his future course of action."

The posters at the SP convention on Saturday did not have pictures of Mulayam and Shivpal, giving ample hints about their place in the party. The convention saw a realignment of forces within the SP as senior leader Azam Khan attended the event and lashed out at the "people who have betrayed the party", in an apparent reference to Shivpal, his one-time friend and confidante.

Another surprise presence was that of SP MP Beni Prasad Varma, whose inclusion in the party last year was said to have triggered the battle within the family.

To top it all, SP president Akhilesh Yadav in his address on Saturday cautioned his supporters against "fake samajwadis". As in the past, Akhilesh, however, struck an emotional note when he said, "Netaji (Mulayam) is my father and this party (SP) belongs to him. His blessings are with us and we will carry forward his legacy. My father has always been with us and will remain with us."

In Election Commission records, Lok Dal is a registered, unrecognised party that was formed by veteran socialist leader Charan Singh way back in 1980 and Mulayam was its founder-member.

Lok Dal has the old election symbol of farmer ploughing the field (khet jot-ta kissan). Fighting on the symbol, Charan Singh had become the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh.

Mulayam, who was opposed to the SP-Congress alliance during the Assembly elections, was offered Lok Dal symbol and president's post by Sunil Singh. "A number of Shivpal loyalists had contested on Lok Dal ticket during the assembly polls and the party used Mulayam's photographs for campaigns, terming him a true samajwadi," the Lok Dal president said.

The Yadav family feud came to the fore about a year ago and led to Akhilesh snatching the mantle of the SP national president from his father at an emergency national convention of the party here on 1 January. Taking full control of the party after being crowned as its head and alloted the 'bicycle' symbol by the EC on 16 January, Akhilesh has been going whole hog consolidating his grip over the party.

With inputs from agencies

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Updated Date: Sep 25, 2017 12:32:50 IST