Samajwadi Party feud: How the Mulayam-Akhilesh Yadav political battle unfurled

The Samajwadi Party's family feud has reached previously unknown depths, granted there was always friction between father Mulayam and son Akhilesh, but on Sunday it reached its breaking point.

To get to the root of the fight, one has to trace the history of the tension between the two, while also including the other members of the Yadav clan — namely Shivpal Singh Yadav, the younger brother of Mulayam, and Ram Gopal Yadav, Mulayam's cousin. This great Indian political saga isn't complete without its supporting cast members, Amar Singh and Azam Khan who play key roles in the rapidly unfolding drama.

File photo of CM Akhilesh Yadav. PTI

File photo of CM Akhilesh Yadav. PTI

Since the day Akhilesh became the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, Mulayam has been interfering in matters of governance. So much that there has been speculation as to who is running the state; the line that divides the party and the government looks thin and worn out.

You don't have to look any further than when Shivpal replaced Akhilesh as the party's state chief unit, which is a post that is crucial in the Assembly election that will take place next year, analyses Ajay Singh for Firstpost.

Even the appointment of Anita Singh, a 1990 batch Indian Administrative Services (IAS) officer, who is the secretary to the chief minister, was viewed as Mulayam tightening his hold on the reins of the UP government. This is because she is reportedly close to Mulayam and in his absence is also said to be calling the shots.

In an extensive profile of Akhilesh Yadav in The Caravan titled Everybody's Brother, Neha Dixit concludes that Akhilesh was sworn in as a puppet CM because the real power predictably was expected to be held by seniors Mulayam, Shivpal, Ram Gopal, Azam Khan and bureaucrat Anita. Azam Khan, who is reportedly one of most influential Muslim politicians in Uttar Pradesh, is also the founding member of the Samajwadi Party.

This division of power has naturally caused friction and infighting.

A shadow of bitter feud has been brewing in the background of the UP assembly election set to take place in 2017 — on 19 October, Akhilesh, in a letter to his father, declared that he'd be taking part in a state-wide poll campaign yatra, laying his father's plans of a grand show to waste. This move came at a time when Shivpal and Akhilesh have been locked in a power struggle. The Caravan's piece reported that Shivpal and Akhilesh were close during the latter's childhood with Shivpal spending some quality time with Akhilesh during the absence of his father, Mulayam. Shivpal also reportedly went with a young Akhilesh to help him complete admission procedures.

So what went wrong in between?

A Firstpost piece reported that Shivpal Yadav "is the unsavoury face of SP, who loves the company of Mukhtar Ansari, DP Yadav and Amar Singh", while Akhilesh is the progressive youthful face, who represents energy and sincerity in UP politics but is bogged down by the various pulls of his father and uncles. Akhilesh, the Uttar Pradesh CM, is up against his own father, who has blamed him for not being able to win enough seats and challenged his authority.

Mulayam is said to have told SP workers in September that had he listened to Shivpal, the party would've won 30-35 seats and that he would have become the prime minister. He then added, as an insult to injury, that Akhilesh was accepted as chief minister only because he was his son and that he never had any "individual standing in politics".

Shivpal’s sacking came a day after a close aide of Akhilesh Yadav, MLC Udayveer Singh was expelled from the Samajwadi Party. Udayveer was sacked a few days after he shotoff a stinging letter to Mulayam accusing his second wife of hatching a conspiracy against the Chief Minister.


Now, where does Amar Singh feature in all this? Not only is he seen as the cause for friction between Akhilesh and Shivpal, the former general secretary of the party and Rajya Sabha MP, who rejoined and was reinstated in his old posts, is also being blamed for the rift. Singh took Shivpal's side when the latter brokered a deal to merge criminal-turned-politician Mukhtar Ansari’s QED and SP, which Akhilesh opposed, reported Hindustan Times. Akhilesh then broke ties with QED, which angered Shivpal, and sacked minister Balram Yadav, the man who had helped Shivpal in negotiating the deal. In this rift, Singh took Shivpal's side.

One of the many sackings that propelled this rift forward was that of MLC Udayveer Singh, a close aide of Akhilesh. Udyaveer was sacked after he shot a letter to Mulayam accusing the latter's wife of practicing black magic and hatching a conspiracy against the chief minister, reported The Indian Express. The sacked MLC had also announced that he would boycott the party's silver jubilee celebrations in protest of the expulsion of their colleagues.


Updated Date: Oct 24, 2016 18:58 PM

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