On a cold New Year’s Day, the goings-on in the Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh bordered on the absurd with party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav again expelling — for the third time in a year — his cousin Ram Gopal Yadav from the party for six years on charges of indiscipline even as the Akhilesh Yadav faction named Akhilesh as the party’s national president and recommended that Mulayam move to the background as "guide and patron".
What added to the tragi-comic element was the fact that Mulayam’s action came within hours of a huge gathering of party workers and leaders loyal to Akhilesh. This "national convention" had been convened by Ram Gopal for which the notice had been issued two days ago. And ironically, this invitation had led to his second expulsion.
At the convention, the contours of the future strategy of the Akhilesh-Ram Gopal faction became clearer as Ram Gopal moved three resolutions — nominating Akhilesh as national president of the party, expelling Shivpal Yadav and Amar Singh from the party, and moving Mulayam to the status of Marg Darshak (patron and guide) a la Lal Krishna Advani and other veterans in the Bharatiya Janata Party.
The meet, however, was attened by Akhilesh, Ram Gopal, Naresh Agrawal, several ministers, MLAs and MLCs and hundreds of workers and supporters. Ram Gopal moved the three resolutions and the assembled crowd cheered in agreement to each of them. The convention also authorised Akhilesh to constitute the national executive, parliamentary board and various state units also decided to inform the Election Commission of the developments.
In his address, Akhilesh told the gathering that he had the greatest respect for his father and that he would fight all those who were conspiring against the party. He repeatedly thanked his father for having faith in him and giving him the responsibility of chief minister. Later in the day, Akhilesh appointed Naresh Uttam Patel as the state president of the party, a position held in the Mulayam faction by Shivpal.
The convention was the latest in a series of shows of strength by the two factions of Samajwadi Party led respectively by Akhilesh and Shivpal. The Shivpal camp retaliated within a couple of hours by expelling Ram Gopal from the party and terming the convention and all the resolutions passed therein as "illegal". However, Mulayam and Shivpal remained mum on Akhilesh. Mulayam later also expelled Naresh Agrawal and Kiranmoy Nanda from the party. He has now called for another national convention on 5 January. Earlier in the day, Mulayam had warned party workers from participating in the convention, saying that those who attended the meet would be expelled from the party and stern action will be taken against them.
However, on Monday morning, Mulayam is believed to have put the convention on hold:
— Doordarshan News (@DDNewsLive) January 2, 2017
The development came a day after the Mulayam-Shivpal faction revoked the expulsion of Akhilesh and Ram Gopal, done a day earlier, after a massive show of strength by Akhilesh indicated that a majority of legislators and office bearers were with the chief minister.
Not surprisingly, both Mulayam and Akhilesh blamed elements "friendly" to the BJP for "inciting" the other faction. While Ram Gopal said Amar Singh was a "BJP agent", Mulayam said that whatever was happening in the party was at the behest of those working for the BJP’s interest.
A day ago, it was reported that senior minister Azam Khan and the Bihar leader Lalu Prasad Yadav had intervened to organise a meeting between Mulayam and Akhilesh where hopes of a rapprochement had been raised. But now the dispute in the party has acquired dimensions that even close friends of the Yadav family and other well-wishers would find difficult to resolve.
The conflict over the party’s election symbol, the "cycle", the party flag and other assets including buildings, is now likely to go to court as the Election Commission has been informed by both factions about their respective claims. With Akhilesh having shown his control over the party office bearers and legislators, now it is Shivpal’s turn to stage his show of strength and use that occasion to announce his measures against Akhilesh, Ram Gopal and their supporters.
Incidentally, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to address a huge rally in Lucknow on 2 January and people are eagerly waiting to hear his comments on the goings-on in the Samajwadi Party.
Updated Date: Jan 02, 2017 09:01 AM