Amid the raging family feud, Samajwadi Party leaders Mulayam Singh Yadav, Akhilesh Yadav and Shivpal Singh Yadav, on Monday, came together to address the party workers in Lucknow. Tension was palpable much before the meeting began with youth supporters of Akhilesh mounting pressure on the leadership in support of the chief minister.
The meeting was announced a day after Akhilesh had sacked Shivpal, his uncle and party's state unit chief, along with three other "pro-Amar Singh" ministers from his Cabinet and Mulayam, in a tit-for-tat action, expelled his cousin Ram Gopal, Akhilesh supporter and SP's national general secretary, from the party for six years.
Days ahead of its silver jubilee celebrations and with the Assembly election a few months away, the party is facing its worst-ever crisis.
Shivpal backs Mulayam as CM candidate
Shivpal Yadav launched a scathing attack on the Uttar Pradesh chief minister and accused him of trying to form a new party or enter into an alliance with another party.
In a fiery speech, the former state PWD Minister and Uttar Pradesh SP president criticised Akhilesh for not giving him due recognition and appreciation for the work done by him as minister.
Shivpal said officials refused to listen to him at the behest of the chief minister. "Even opponents have appreciated my work and the help offered to every one," he said.
Talking about the initial struggles of the Samajwadi Party, he said, "We have been beaten by the police, have been to jail, pedalled cycles for hundreds of km to bring the party to this position."
On speculations around Akhilesh floating a new party, Shivpal said that the chief minister had in fact told him in a close-door meeting that he will form another party. He went on to say that he was ready to swear by the holy Gangajal on this issue.
The senior SP leader also strongly defended Amar Singh and said that in 2003, the SP government in Uttar Pradesh was because of the efforts of the Thakur leader.
When some leaders started shouting anti-Amar Singh slogans, Shivpal scolded them and said, "You are not even an inch of what Amar Singh is. Tum Amar Singh ke pair ki dhool ke baraabar bhi nahin hoh," he said.
The former minister also said that time had come for SP supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav to take over the state government and lead the party in the forthcoming Assembly elections.
He also hailed Mulayam and said, "Netaji, you had become an alternate to Narendra Modi. Who let you down?"
Akhilesh hails Mulayam as guru, denies charges of forming new party
Akhilesh, on Monday, made an emotional pitch at the crucial party meeting in the presence of his father (Mulayam) and called him his "guru". He also assured that he could never split the party.
Akhilesh said he was ready to quit if his father asks him to and if it helps in sorting out the impasse in the ruling party.
The chief minister also said that he has always obeyed the SP chief and was very thankful that his father had taken him to such dizzying heights in the party.
The 43-year-old, however, pointed at a conspiracy against him and rued that his uncle Shivpal was also part of it.
"I have done everything for the betterment of the party and my government has worked for all-round development of UP and I will continue to do that," he said.
He highlighted the various development projects like the Lucknow Metro and the Agra-Lucknow Expressway which would be inaugurated on Netaji's (Mulayam Singh) birthday in November.
Trashing reports and speculations that he was anti-Mulayam, Akhilesh said he had never done anything which was against party interest and had always ensured that every problem was addressed to Netaji either through letters or personal meetings.
In an important disclosure, Akhilesh referred to the sacking of minister Gayatri Prajapati in September as a decision taken on the behest of Netaji.
"Even Chief Secretary Deepak Singhal was removed on Mulayam Singh's order and I had even tipped off the top bureaucrat to go and beg for forgiveness," Akhilesh said.
I was hurt when Amar Singh said that by November Akhilesh will not be CM in UP. Ramgopal ji didnt say that: Akhilesh Yadav
— ANI UP (@ANINewsUP) October 24, 2016
Mulayam tries to keep the party together
Mulayam told party workers that he can still hold Samajwadi Party together. "Shivpal meri sunega to Akhilesh meri baat ko mana nahi karega (Shivpal will listen to me and Akhilesh will never say no to me)," he said.
"Samajwadi Party will not break, I will not let the party break," Mulayam said.
I feel really sad because of this rift in our family: Mulayam Yadav
— ANI UP (@ANINewsUP) October 24, 2016
Defending Amar Singh, he said, "I can't leave Amar Singh or Shivpal Yadav. All of Amar Singh's sins are forgiven."
Mulayam also hailed Modi and his efforts to keep his family together. "Look at Modi, he became PM with dedication and struggle. He comes from a poor family, says he can't leave his mother."
"I know the party will not split...I will not let the party break," said an emotional Mulayam. News reports said he also broke down in front of the party workers.
"I will never forget the work Shivpal has done for me and Samajwadi Party...Drunkards, goons have been added to the party. You get some power and it goes to your head. Shivpal is the leader of the masses," Mulayam said.
He also said that Shivpal had always stood by Mulayam.
"I can become the prime minister if I wanted to. But what is the point of becoming the prime minister? There are many ex-PMs walking around," he said.
"I am the baap of goondagardi," said the SP chief.
"I braved lathis and jail to bring party to this level...Jo bahut ucchal rahein hai agar baat aayi to ek laathi bhi nahin seh paaenge," he said. "But I have not been weakened by whatever has happened in the party so far," he further said, adding that there was a need to remove weaknesses in the party.
"Those talking about weaknesses are your friends," Mulayam said, in a message for Akhilesh. "Some ministers are just sycophants. And people who can't think big can't be a minister" he added.
With input from agencies
Updated Date: Oct 24, 2016 15:30 PM