Samajwadi Party feud: How the latest chapter of the Akhilesh-Mulayam drama unfolded

On Saturday evening, Samajwadi Party leader Shivpal Yadav tried to convince people that the party was like one big happy family as he told reporters that everything was fine and all the leaders in the party would unite to fight "communal forces" in the country.

A day before that, Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav and another party leader Ram Gopal Yadav had been sacked from the party — although their expulsion was revoked in less than a day. A day after Shivpal's failed attempt to portray a picture of perfection, Akhilesh removed Mulayam Singh Yadav as the party chief.

This not only shows the massive mood swings the Samajwadi Party is going through right now but also the deep crisis in the party.

The current crisis began when in a virtual rebellion against his father Mulayam, Akhilesh — on 29 December — released his own list of 235 candidates for the 2017 assembly elections.

The move, indicating parting of ways between the two factions of the ruling party led by Akhilesh and his uncle Shivpal, confirmed that the family patriarch Mulayam had failed to pacify the warring duo.

The swift development from the Akhilesh camp came a day after Mulayam released the official list of 325 candidates, denying tickets to several Akhilesh loyalists.

Mulayam had, in his press meet on 28 December, ruled out projection of Akhilesh as the party's chief ministerial candidate. Moreover, on 25 December, Akhilesh defied Shivpal and prepared a list of 403 candidates which he handed over to Mulayam. Mulayam refused to accept the list.

On 30 December, a day after Akhilesh released his own list for the polls, Mulayam expelled Akhilesh and SP general secretary Ram Gopal Yadav from the party.

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav (left) with father Mulayam. PTI

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav (left) with father Mulayam. PTI

"We have to save the party. The party comes first. That is why we are expelling both Akhilesh and Ram Gopal," he had said. He had explained that the decision was taken after Ram Gopal, in his capacity as general secretary, called an emergency meeting of the party on 1 January and Akhilesh "supported" it.

Two important developments took place on Saturday. Setting the stage for a show of strength, chief minister Akhilesh Yadav, who was expelled from SP at that time, held a meeting at his residence where a majority of the 229 party MLAs were present.

Meanwhile, SP leader Amar Singh termed the crisis in the party as "unfortunate" and asked party members to support Mulayam in the family feud.

Faced with an imminent split which could have drastically reduced his clout, Mulayam Singh Yadav then revoked the expulsion of Akhilesh and his uncle Ram Gopal. "All of us together will fight communal forces and we will once again form an SP government in UP with full majority. These are my orders. We will hold discussions within ourselves and decide, and prepare for the upcoming elections," Shivpal had then said.

But just when it looked like the SP feud was finally over, the party split down the middle on Sunday, when the faction headed by Akhilesh removed Mulayam as party chief and appointed Akhilesh in his place at a convention in which the group claimed support of the majority of legislators and district units.

On a day of fast-paced developments, the two sides engaged in mutual recriminatory expulsions with the convention called by Ram Gopal Yadav removing Akhilesh's warring uncle Shivpal Yadav as state party chief, and showing the door to "outsider" Amar Singh, who has been blamed for the feud in the Yadav clan.

Mulayam retorted by again expelling his cousin Ram Gopal for six years along with national vice president Kiranmoy Nanda, who chaired the convention, and general secretary Naresh Agarwal for taking part in it.

43-year-old Akhilesh was "unanimously" crowned the SP president as Ram Gopal moved a proposal to make Mulayam, the founder president of SP, the party patron at the convention, where the CM's faction claimed that over 200 of the party's 229 MLAs, around 30 MLCs, besides majority of office bearers of district units were present.

The convention also authorised Akhilesh to constitute a national executive, parliamentary board and various state units, as required, and inform the Election Commission of the developments at the earliest.

The proposal to make Akhilesh SP chief was welcomed by a huge applause by nearly 5,000 partymen who had gathered at the sprawling Janeshwar Misra Park in Lucknow.

Mulayam termed as illegal all decisions taken at the convention. In a hard-hitting letter, he said the convention had not been called with permission of the national president and so all decision taken there were invalid.

Mulayam also postponed the convention called on 5 January. In a series of tweets, Shivpal said that on the orders of Mulayam Singh Yadav, the convention called on 5 January has been postponed for now.

While Shivpal gave no reasons for the abrupt cancellation of the meeting, insiders said perhaps the Mulayam camp was apprehensive of a poor turnout compared to the massive gathering at the "convention" held by Ram Gopal Yadav on Sunday.

Another report in The Indian Express said that even the SP leaders who were considered close to Mulayam sided with Akhilesh. Among them were party co-founder Reoti Raman Singh, vice-president Kiranmay Nanda and party general secretary and Rajya Sabha MP Naresh Agrawal.

Perhaps no one can predict what will happen in the Samajwadi Party next. Political commentators have earlier also made several predictions for the future of SP, only to see a completely opposite situation emerge.

With the Samajwadi Party, expect the unexpected.

With inputs from PTI

Updated Date: Jan 02, 2017 13:17 PM

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