Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav would skip the flagging-off ceremony of Samajwadi Vikas Yatra by Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav in Lucknow on Thursday.
Samajwadi Party sources said that the likely presence of expelled SP leader Ram Gopal Yadav and five expelled MLCs on the occasion forced Mulayam Singh to keep himself away from the event.
``Ram Gopal and five MLCs – members of `Team Akhilesh’ were expelled from the party by Shivpal Yadav on the direction of the SP chief. So how can Mulayam Singh be present at a function where expelled leaders would be seen rubbing shoulders with his son Akhilesh?’’ asked an SP leader.
"Mulayam's presence would not only be interpreted as `erosion of his authority’ but also make him a party to an event which is a stark example of indiscipline,’’ said the leader.
UP minister and Akhilesh loyalist Rajendra Chaudhary said that the CM's Rath Yatra has Mulayam Singh's blessings but he refused to comment whether the SP chief would flag off the Yatra or not.
Ram Gopal Yadav had recently announced in Etawah that he would attend the Rath Yatra launching in Lucknow on November 3 and will support Akhilesh for his second term as Chief Minister of UP.
The bickering within the SP's first family came out in the open after Mulayam refused to attend Yash Bharati award function even as his name was printed on the invitation card as the chief guest of the event.
Rajya Sabha MP and SP vice-president Kironmoy Nanda said: `The Rath Yatra is about showcasing the achievements of the government during its nearly five years and is an event covering the state of UP only. So there is no need for the national SP president to be present at the state-level program"
”Netaji had already flagged off the Mulayam Sandesh Yatra on September 10, which has completed two phases of campaigning for the party in view of the coming Assembly elections," he stated.
“Netaji has in the past flagged off yatras of Akhilesh in 2001-02 and then in 2011-12. So, now there is no such need to do it again this time, too," explained Nanda.
A close confidant of both Mulayam Singh and Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, Nanda said that the Rath Yatra of Akhilesh Yadav would be a historic event in UP's political history.