The rift in the ‘first family’ of Uttar Pradesh has come out in open. Earlier, people used to say in whispers and the Yadav clan used to deny it publically bringing `Chacha’ and `Bhatija’ on the same platform, projecting bonhomie in the family. But on Tuesday – the day of Qurbani when people celebrate Bakrid — Akhilesh Yadav and Shivpal Singh Yadav came face to face giving credence to the fear that “everything is not fine in the family”.
The way Akhilesh Yadav was removed as the party president and, in retaliation, Akhilesh, using his discretion as Chief Minister, divested Shivpal of important portfolios was the indicator that a fight for supremacy in the Samajwadi Party and the government has begun.
Akhilesh was the state president of the party for the last seven years. Under his leadership, the Samajwadi party won Assembly election with a thumping majority in 2012 and he was made Chief Minister, despite the fact that he had not contested the election. He made entry into the state legislature through the Council route. Such was the political charm of Akhilesh that despite being made the CM, he continued to be the party state president.
The first indication of a rift in the Yadav family surfaced in December last when Mulayam Singh Yadav expelled three close lieutenants of Akhilesh – including Sunil Yadav and Ashish Bhadoria – from the party. Insiders say angry Akhilesh had a heated exchange of words with his father and refused to attend Saifai mahotsava. Mulayam later relented and the expulsion of the trio was expunged. Not only this they were also made MLCs.
Akhilesh and Shivpal again crossed each other’s roads on the question of merger of Mukhtar Ansari led Qaumi Ekta Dal in Samajwadi Party. The announcement was made by Shivpal Pal Singh but Akhilesh spiked it. Not only this – he removed Balram Singh Yadav, who was instrumental in this deal, from the cabinet.
In August this year, Shivpal Singh threatened to resign saying bureaucrats were not listening to him. Then again Mulayam stepped in and brought Akhilesh and Shivpal Singh Yadav on the common platform presenting a picture of unity.
The situation deteriorated on Monday when the CM sacked two ministers Gayatri Prajapati and Raj Kishore for their involvement in corruption. The very next day, he also removed state chief secretary Deepak Singhal and appointed Rahul Bhatnagar in his place. Singhal is said to be one of the most corrupt bureaucrats and is very close to Shivpal Singh Yadav.
In the evening, Mulayam Singh removed his son from the party state president post and appointed his younger brother Shivpal Yadav as a new president. The justification given by senior leaders was that both Chacha and Bhatija are given separate space – Chacha will head party and Bhatija the government.
This did not happen. In a quick reaction, the Chief Minister divested Shivpal Yadav from important portfolios like PWD, irrigation and flood control, revenue, cooperatives, relief and rehabilitation and public administration.
The fight may not end here. Mulayam Singh Yadav has flown down to Lucknow to douse the fire. Shivpal might quit Akhilesh’s ministry. What will happen if Akhilesh refuses to toe Mulayam Singh’s line? Will then Mulayam replace Akhilesh? These are the big questions staring at the state.