With the Yadav family feud showing no signs of abating anytime soon, Samajwadi Party (SP) President Mulayam Singh Yadav decided to further isolate his son Akhilesh Yadav when he refused to name him as the party's chief ministerial candidate for 2017 Assembly elections.
In an interview carried by a newspaper on Friday, Akhilesh said that he was ready to start the election campaign all by himself, implying that he was now all alone in his fight for power.
Mulayam, who was briefing the media about preparations for the SP's 25th-anniversary celebrations on 5 November in Lucknow on Friday, was asked if Akhilesh will be the party's CM face.
His reply was - "the party legislators will elect their leader after the elections". This was a direct snub to his son who has spent crores on publicising his developmental work in the state.
Not only was Mulayam's answer a snub, but it also left Akhilesh's fate hanging in balance. Now that Shivpal Yadav is becoming more assertive by the day, what if the legislators decide to choose him as the next legislature party leader?
What are the odds?
Before the 2012 Assembly elections, Mulayam had taken a similar stand on the issue of chief minister. To avoid a rebellion from his brother, he kept his cards close to his chest until the last minute.
Despite making Akhilesh go through the grind, the chief minister claims his campaign then included 1 lakh kilometres on cycle, Mulayam did not name his son as CM candidate in the run-up to the elections.
But the situation in 2012 was different. Akhilesh, who was inexperienced then, is no longer a political greenhorn. Having ensured implementation of his flagship schemes, he is confident of heading the party's poll campaign as CM candidate again.
In his recent interactions with the media the chief minister has been saying that the people of the state have faith in him and would like to see him return to power.
Indeed, in recent months Akhilesh has emerged as the more credible face of the party compared to either Mulayam or uncle Shivpal Yadav, with whom he is locked in a power struggle.
Recent poll surveys have also shown that in the Samajwadi Party Akhilesh was a more popular chief ministerial candidate as compared to Mulayam.
But Mulayam holds a different view. The Yadav family patriarch has said in the recent past that he was the people's first choice as chief minister.
After publicly reprimanding his son several times, the last warning came in August this year when he told Akhilesh, "If I stand up, this government will feel the heat."
It was then that Mulayam's preference for his younger brother, who had threatened to resign from the cabinet, became clear. The party/family crisis brought the brothers together and left Akhilesh out in the cold.
The two Yadav brothers, with Amar Singh allegedly playing the villain in between, have pushed Akhilesh and his loyalists out of the party, forcing the chief minister to open an office for his young brigade in the name of Janeshwar Mishra Trust.
At Wednesday's press conference, Akhilesh was not present despite being in Lucknow. Seated next to the 76-year-old party patriarch, was Shivpal who had to repeat the questions to Mulayam. Yet Mulayam denied there was any feud in the family.
"There has been no feud in the family for three generations and you talk of feud now," Mulayam countered. He then held Shivpal's hand and announced, "This is family."Truth be told, these days Akhilesh is rarely seen with his father and uncle. On Ram Manohar Lohia's 49th death anniversary, Akhilesh reached the Lohia Park an hour before his father and uncle, paid his floral tributes to the socialist leader and left without waiting for his seniors.The SP's election campaign has already been delayed and now with the family infighting, in which Mulayam and Shivpal are on one side and Akhilesh on another, it remains to be seen if they will pull the Samajwadi rath apart in different directions. Edited by Jhinuk Sen Also read: Civil war in SP: Akhilesh, his uncle, and the three aides he won't let downAlso read: It's uncle Shivpal vs nephew Akhilesh: Yadav family drama continuesAlso read: Shivpal vs Akhilesh vs Mulayam: where will the Samajwadi Party drama lead to?Also read: Yadav civil war: Shivpal fires salvo at Akhilesh, fires 7 CM loyalists Also read: Why it's advantage Akhilesh in this 'Uncle Vs Nephew' battle