Is Samajwadi Party likely to split?

There is a possibility that Mulayam Singh Yadav, who is national president of the party, will reject the resignation of Shivpal Singh Yadav and ask him to continue as state president

Is Samajwadi Party likely to split?

The Samajwadi Party may be heading towards its biggest political crisis as peeved over family feud Shivpal Singh Yadav tendered his resignation from Akhilesh Yadav Government as well as from the post of party’s state presidentship and offered to work as a simple party 'karyakarta'.

As the news spread, few ministers, legislators and hundreds of workers reached Shivpal's house raising slogans in his support and asking him to continue his fight, raising the apprehension of a split in the party.

Political pundits rule out such a possibility but fear that Shivpal's belligerence could prove costly. "He is an organisational man. He knows party workers by the first name. If he decides to part ways, it could be a requiem for the party in UP, " says SP Pandey, head of Pt Govind Ballabh Pant Institute of Social Studies in Lucknow.

Realising the gravity of the situation, Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav refused to accept the resignation, but sources say Shivpal Singh Yadav had refused to work under Akhilesh Yadav. People close to Shivpal Singh Yadav say his son Aditya Yadav too would resign from the post of chairman, Pradeshik Cooperative Federation.

There is a possibility that Mulayam Singh Yadav, who is national president of the party, will also reject the resignation of Shivpal Singh Yadav and would ask him to continue as state president.

Sources say that Shivpal Singh took this decision after he had a short meeting with Chief Minister at his residence. He was in the CM’s residence for just 15 minutes. What conspired between Chacha and Bhatija or whether the CM at all met Shivpal Singh Yadav is not known but the way Shivpal Singh faxed his resignation letter to the CM proves that the meeting failed to thaw the relations.

Insiders in the party say that Shivpal Singh earlier had an hour-long meeting with Mulayam Singh Yadav at his residence – 5 Vikramaditya Marg – and from there he drove to 5 Kalidas Marg – the official residence of Chief Minister.

Samajwadi Party (SP) supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav, who is caught between his son and brother, stepped in to defuse the crisis and reached Lucknow a day earlier. He was earlier expected to come to the state capital on Friday but preferred to come a day earlier because of the intransigent stand taken by Akhilesh Yadav.

Sources in the party say that Mulayam had summoned both Shivpal Singh Yadav and Akhilesh to New Delhi on Wednesday. Shivpal was in Etawah but reached Delhi but Akhilesh – despite cancelling his official engagements, did not go to Delhi to meet party patriarch.

Realising that the situation might go out of hand, Mulayam rushed to Lucknow. “Once I reach Lucknow, I will resolve the crisis,” he told reporters.

In Lucknow, Mulayam had a meeting with Shivpal Yadav. Sources say he persuaded him to go and meet Akhilesh Yadav. “This was probably done to break the ice between Chacha and Bhatija. The meeting between the two was short – just for 13 minutes to be precise,” a source said.

Interestingly, another family member, Prof Ram Gopal Yadav, who met the Chief Minister for around two hours left for Saifai without meeting either Shivpal Singh or Mulayam Singh Yadav. He, though, said that Netaji will resolve the crisis as no one in the party can disobey him.

Shivpal Singh Yadav was not pleased the way Akhilesh has changed his portfolio and reduced him from second in command in the government to just a minnow. He has minced no words in saying that the decision to take important portfolios from him was only Akhilesh’s decision and he has not consulted anyone in the party.

“I know Akhilesh Yadav has not consulted anyone in the party before changing my portfolios. This was his personal decision,” Yadav told reporters here on Thursday.

He has also said that he was given a bigger responsibility and was happy with it. “It is Chief Minister’s prerogative to distribute portfolios and Akhilesh used that right. I am happy with what I have. I have been given a bigger responsibility and I will concentrate on that,” Shivpal says.

However, he is non-committal whether Akhilesh would be projected as Chief Minister by the party for 2017 election. “I cannot say anything. It will be Netaji’s (Mulayam Singh Yadav) decision. If he says Akhilesh would be the Chief Ministerial face of the party, I will abide by his order,” he says.

The statement is a reflection of prevailing bitterness between `chacha’ and `bhatija’ despite several rounds of talk among members of the Yadav family. "No one becomes big because of the post he holds. I have always thought that way," he says taking a jibe at Akhilesh Yadav.

Akhilesh was angry the way he was removed from the post of state president. In retaliation, he stripped Shivpal of all important posts. Shivpal does not delve into this detail but says he too was removed in 2009 from the state president’s post. “I did not oppose that decision,” he says.

Earlier, Shivpal Yadav was given a rousing welcome on his arrival from Delhi. Hundreds of workers reached Amausi airport to receive him. Slogans like “Shivpal Singh tum sangharsh karo hum tumahre saath hai” rent the air. But the workers were not able to explain what kind of `sangharsh’ they want Shivpal to wage.