The Samajwadi Legislature Party meets here on Saturday to elect its leader amidst feverish speculation in the media that party president Mulayam Singh may forsake the top job of Chief Minister and entrust the task of running Uttar Pradesh to his son, Akhilesh Yadav.
The SP's older guard is believed to favour Mr. Singh becoming Chief Minister, while younger party workers, including some of its new MLAs, want Mr. Yadav. For the record, however, there has so far been no word — informal or formal — about the chief ministership from the party's first family. Instead, the father-son duo on Friday dubbed the recent incidents of hooliganism, allegedly by SP workers, as a “conspiracy” by some elements to defame the party and said that lawlessness would not be tolerated and law and order will be strictly maintained.
U.P. Chief Secretary Anup Mishra and Director General of Police Atul were on Friday summoned by the former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister. The officers met Mr. Singh at the party office. The outcome of the meeting was not known, but informed sources said that the officers were asked by Mr. Singh to ensure the maintenance of law and order and action against the anti-social elements.
Addressing party workers who had come to offer Holi greetings, Mr. Singh said the alleged involvement of SP workers in recent incidents of violence was a conspiracy by vested interests. The SP president said the law and order situation would be improved and the government will not hesitate to punish the guilty, even if he is a party worker.
The spate of violent incidents within hours of the Samajwadi Party's landslide victory in the recent Assembly elections with allegations being levelled on party workers clearly had the leadership worried. A statement was issued by Mr. Yadav late on Tuesday night condemning the hooliganism in Jhansi and Firozabad and the attack on journalists.
On Friday, Mr. Yadav said that the party was fully committed to maintain law and order. Mr. Yadav said no leniency would be shown to those indulging in anti-social activities. Giving a clean chit to SP workers, the party's State unit president told reporters that the leadership would not hesitate to expel them, if found guilty of indulging in violence and arson. He alleged that the incidents were the handiwork of some persons who were unable to come to terms with the Samajwadi Party's victory. Even as he condemned the efforts to malign the party, Mr. Yadav said the “law should take its course.”
Mr. Yadav blamed some officials for not fulfilling their responsibility. He wanted that the officials should come down heavily on the anti-social elements and those who don't would be strictly dealt with.
The Additional Director General of Police (Law and Order), Subesh Kumar Singh told journalists that the incidents in Jhansi and Firozabad were the fallout of the dispute over counting of votes. Mr. Singh said criminal cases have been registered in both the incidents. The ADG refused to name any political party for inciting violence.
About the clash, reportedly between the SP and the BSP workers in Ambedkar Nagar, where a rice mill owned by the family members of former Transport Minister, Ram Achal Rajbhar was torched by a rival group and a tractor damaged on Thursday, Mr. Singh denied that the incident was a fallout of political rivalry. He said the station officer of Sammanpur police station has been suspended for dereliction of duty.
The incident occurred in Basaudi village when two rival groups led by Ramesh Rajbhar and Anil Kumar Verma clashed and indulged in heavy stone-pelting. Five persons were injured in the violence, following which the supporters of Ramesh Rajbhar set ablaze the hut and motorcycle of Anil Verma. In turn Verma's supporters burnt the rice mill and the tractor belonging to the relatives of the former BSP Minister. The ADG said the violence was the fallout of a dispute over the music played by a disc jockey. Cross FIRs have been lodged.