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The Samajwadi Party feud: a timeline

Uncle Shivpal and nephew Akhilesh.  

That Akhilesh Yadav and his uncle Shivpal Yadav do not share a healthy relationship is well-known in the political circles of Uttar Pradesh. If Shivpal was unhappy about Akhilesh’s coronation, his nephew has often blamed the uncle for interventionism in his government.

The two have often been on collision course over selection of candidates, style of functioning, approach to elections and alliances. The present crisis has a long background of tension. We take a look at the recent developments in the power-struggle, as Akhilesh asserts himself in an attempt to come out of the shadow of his uncles.

December, 2015: The party expelled three youth leaders, including two close aides of Akhilesh Yadav, Sunil Singh Yadav, better known as ‘Sunil Sajan’ and Anand Bhadauria for “anti-party” activities during the zila panchayat elections. The decision was taken at the behest of Shivpal who even made the announcement, even though the State president was Akhilesh Yadav. A miffed Akhilesh then gave a miss to the inaugural ceremony of the Saifai Mahotsav, the annual jamboree held in the ancestral village of the Yadavs.

January 1, 2016: Akhilesh eventually attends the Saifai Mahotsav amid speculations of internal tiff. A day later, his close aides were re-instated, in a truce.

June 2: The Quami Ekta Dal (QED) merges with the Samajwadi Party and two of its top three leaders are formally inducted into Mulayam Singh’s party. Shivpal is credited for the merger but this does not go down well with Akhilesh who wants to shield his clean image. Later in the day, Akhilesh sacks cabinet minister and senior Yadav leader Balram Yadav for his role in the merger. QED leader Mukhtar Ansari has a criminal background though his supporters project him as a Robin-hood figure. In 2012, the Yadav scion had opposed the entry of controversial leader D.P. Yadav on grounds of his criminal background. Shivpal has, however, held that all Lohiawadis, Gandhiwadis and Charan Singh vadis were welcome in the SP. Media raises questions on Akhilesh's authority vis-a-vis his uncle.

June 25: Bowing to the wishes of Akhilesh Yadav, the Samajwadi Party takes a u-turn on the merger of Quami Ekta Dal. The merger is cancelled. QED blames Akhilesh for the “humiliation” even as Shivpal goes into sulking mode after his decision is publicly snubbed. Opposition parties say the SP was staging a drama to merely improve the image of Akhilesh.

July 27: Akhilesh Yadav re-inducts Balram Yadav into the Cabinet in his seventh re-shuffle. Mr. Balram Yadav was sacked last week for his role in the short-lived merger of the Quami Ekta Dal (QED) with the SP. Shivpal, sulking, is conspicuous by his absence at the ceremony.

August 14: Shivpal Yadav threatens to resign after he complains of rampant land grabbing incidents in State and involvement of SP leaders. He said he would rather work for the party.Observers feel his was feeling sidelined.

August 15: In his Independence Day address, Mulayam causes a flutter by saying that if his brother Shivpal resigned, the SP would split. It was an apparent warning to his son.

August 17: Amid tension, Shivpal misses out on a cabinet meeting.

August 19: The Samajwadi Party puts up a show of unity as Shivpal calls upon Akhilesh Yadav, in an apparent bid to bury their differences, at the behest of Mulayam. The two leaders hold a discussion at the CM’s official residence. Shivpal denies there were differences within the Yadav family, even as he lavishes praises on his nephew, saying his government would be re-elected to power in 2017.

September 12: Three days after the Allahabad High Court upheld its order for a CBI probe into illegal mining in Uttar Pradesh, Akhilesh Yadav sacks two tainted ministers-- Mining Minister Gayatri Prajapati and Panchayti Raj Minister Rajkishore Singh who were facing allegations of corruption. It was seen as Akhilesh’s way of projecting a clean image but observers feel there could be a deeper family angle to it, especially Prajapati’s links to Mulayam’s family, especially his step-son Prateek. The decision seems to have irked Mulayam.

September 13: Akhilesh Yadav sacks the topmost bureaucrat in the State, Chief Secretary Deepak Singhal, who was considered close to Mr. Shivpal Yadav, PWD Minister. While no official reason was given, Mr. Singhal seems to have irked the CM by attending a bash held in Delhi by Mr. Amar Singh, an event the CM himself preferred to give a miss. Akhilesh is not on good terms with Amar Singh and was strongly opposed to his return to the SP fold recently after six years. Considered part of Mr. Shivpal’s lobby, Singhal was formerly principal secretary (irrigation), a ministry long-held by Shivpal.

Amid reports that Amar Singh met Mulayam in Delhi, the supremo issues a shocking order removing his son from the post of State president. Akhilesh’s uncle Shivpal is nominated in his place. In retaliation, in late night drama, Akhilesh strips his powerful uncle of all key ministries, especially the lucrative PWD department. Akhilesh keeps the PWD ministry for himself, in a clear downsizing of his uncle.

September 14: In combative mode, Akhilesh Yadav cancels some official programmes for the day. Hundreds of anxious Shivpal supporters reached his residence in Saifai, the ancestral village of the Yadavs in Etawah district. A sulking Shivpal is summoned to Delhi by Mulayam who tries to chalk out a solution to the present crisis. Akhilesh blames outsiders for rift in government in apparent attack on Amar Singh, who is said to play a role in his removal as State president. Amar Singh denies involvement, calling Akhilesh like his son.

September 15: Tension escalates to new high as Shivpal resigns from post of State president and cabinet in UP government in late night action.Akhilesh Yadav apparently returned the resignation letters. The decision came on a day when the SP tried to downplay the ongoing tussles within it and supremo Mulayam Singh even rushed to Lucknow in fire fighting mode. Mulayam first held a close door meeting with Shivpal before calling upon his son.

Earlier in the day, stepping in to mediate the crisis in the Samajwadi Party, senior SP leader and Raya Sabha MP Ramgopal Yadav who is Mulayam Singh Yadav’s cousin, comes out in support of Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, saying the party leadership had committed a “mistake,” though not a deliberate one, in sacking his nephew from the post of State president. He blames the current fiasco on “misunderstandings” and assured it would end in a day or two. Ramgopal also blames Amar Singh for fuelling the crisis in the family and party. There is confusion in the ranks of the party.

September 16: Mulayam rejects Shivpal’s resignation and says as long as he is alive party will not split. Shivpal lays faith in his brother and says he will abide by his instructions, even as his supports shout anti Ramgopal slogans. A truce could be announced soon, with the return of controversial minister Prajapati, and return of important ministries to Shivpal, who is also expected to retain spot as State chief.

October 15: Mulayam denies rift in Yadav clan but when asked by the media if his son remained the chief ministerial candidate, Mulayam avoided a direct endorsement of his son Akhilesh as the party’s chief ministerial candidate in the upcoming Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections.

October 17: "I will propose Akhilesh as CM if the party is voted to power in 2017,” Shivpal Yadav said a day after senior party leader Ramgopal Yadav suggested that Akhilesh Yadav be made the Chief Ministerial candidate.

October 23: Pushing the Samajwadi Party to the brink of a split, party general secretary and Rajya Sabha MP Ramgopal Yadav was expelled from the party for six years. Mr. Ramgopal is a cousin of Mr. Mulayam and Mr. Shivpal.

Mr. Ramgopal was sacked hours after Mr. Shivpal Yadav, and three other ministers considered close to him and Mulayam-aide Amar Singh, were sacked from the State cabinet by Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav.

November 17: Ramgopal Yadav reinstated in Samajwadi Party

December 30: Mulayam Singh expelled his defiant son, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, from the party for six years for “gross indiscipline.” Mulayam’s cousin Ramgopal Yadav was also sacked.


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