Expelled MLC Udayveer Singh lays the blame for Yadav feud at Amar Singh's feet
The Samajwadi Party, which has been witnessing a feud within its ruling family over the last few months, reached a breaking point early 23 October when Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav showed uncle Shivpal Yadav the door from the cabinet of ministers for the second time. Shivpal wasn't the only casualty, five other ministers were also sacked. This turn of events has fuelled speculation about whether this decision will lead to a split in the party.
But over the next few hours, the battle for power only got bloodier when Ram Gopal Yadav - cousin and face of the party in Delhi, who has taken the chief minister's side often - was expelled by the party. Shivpal, during a press conference, alleged that Ram Gopal, fearing the CBI over the Yadav Singh corruption case, has been colluding with the BJP.
Shivpal, speaking after meeting with Mulayam Singh, also said that he would not allow the party to be split and that he will go into the next elections under the leadership of the SP supremo.
The logjam in the Samajwadi Party, sources say, will take another couple of days to clear since a meeting is due at Mulayam Singh's office tomorrow. While supporters of Akhilesh Yadav have decided to not attack Mulayam Singh, the latter seems to be in no mood to relent.
"Akhilesh has made it clear that he does not want to go to the next election with this baggage of corrupt politicians at a time when he enjoys a clean image," says a source who works closely with the chief minister on planning and finance issues of the government.
"Akhilesh Yadav is the face of the Samajwadi Party. There is no reason for him to form a new party," says Udayveer Singh, a member of the legislative council and a friend of the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh from their days at the Sainik School.
Speaking exclusively to Catch a day after he was expelled from the party for writing a letter in support of Akhilesh, Singh says the chief minister enjoys the majority support from all sections of the party.
Many say something much like the Ramayana is playing out in the Yadav family with reports that the rift in the party - Akhilesh on one side and the rest of the family, including father and party patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav, uncle Shivpal Yadav on the other - was fuelled by the political aspirations of Akhilesh's stepbrother Prateek Yadav and his family. Prateek's mother is Sadhna Yadav, Mulayam's second wife.
Singh says, "Prateek Yadav is a non-political person, but his wife (Aparna Bisht Yadav) is a first time entrant in politics after she was declared the party's candidate from Lucknow Cantonment Assembly seat."
"They aren't particularly big players politically. However, like everyone who enters politics, they too have aspirations," Singh says, adding that "their jealousy is being used by vested interests including Shivpal Yadav and Amar Singh."
Another source close to the family says while Prateek is an animal lover and is happy doing other things, it is his wife who is socially and politically active and wants to play a bigger role.