Akhilesh Yadav sacks Shivpal Yadav, Mulayam Singh retaliates in response

LUCKNOW,Oct24: UP CM Akhilesh Yadav removing his father’s favourite brother as a minister. Mulayam Singh Yadav, apparently returning the favour, sacked another relative, cousin Ram Gopal Yadav, who is trusted adviser to Akhilesh and General Secretary of the party.

For the second time in the last month, Akhilesh, the 43-year-old Chief Minister, fired uncle Shivpal Yadav as a minister, dramatically escalating the family drama that has enveloped the First Family of the ruling party in Uttar Pradesh just before the state votes.

The 43-year-old Chief Minister’s exercise of authority is a direct retort to his father, Mulayam Singh Yadav, who leads the Samajwadi Party and has been promoting Shivpal over his son.

Along with Shivpal, 61, three other ministers close to him have also been benched. Shivpal Yadav said later in the day that Ram Gopal Yadav has been removed from his post of General Secretary “for colluding with the BJP.”

That flimsy allegation aside, the Yadavs have appeared to be in the vicinity of imploding as a joint political entity for the last few weeks.

Sunday’s plot points suggest the 24-year-old Samajwadi Party is not far placed from a split with Akhilesh and Mulayam as rival leaders. The Chief Minister suggested he would not force a break.

“Mulayam Yadav is my father. I’ll serve him all my life. I don’t want to split the party and will participate in the party’s 25th anniversary celebrations on November 5,” he said at a meeting on Sunday.

The removal of Shivpal Yadav was announced at a meeting on Sunday of all party legislators hurriedly called by Akhilesh after his father set a meeting with them for Monday.

Last month, Shivpal was dismissed as minister after he tried to force a merger with a political outfit headed by a former gangster. Akhilesh challenged the proposal but was eventually forced into submission by his father.

Shivpal calculated that the new affiliation would boost the Samajwadi Party’s standing among Muslims. Akhilesh was convinced it would allow the opposition to accuse the party of teaming with a nefarious leader for political gain.

As a result of the conflict, Shivpal’s place in the food chain of the Samajwadi Party was made clear by Mulayam: he returned to the cabinet and replaced Akhilesh as chief of the party in the state which gave him large agency in deciding the candidates for the approaching election.

Ram Gopal Yadav is a cousin of Mulayam’s, a long-time opponent of Shivpal’s and has been championing Akhilesh as the “true and most popular leader” of the party. After his expulsion on Sunday, Ram Gopal Yadav later said he had no grievances about the party’s decision but was hurt about the allegations.

“Whether I am in Samajwadi Party or not, in this ‘dharmayudh (holy war)’, I shall always be with Akhilesh Yadav,” he said, adding that he would continue to side with his nephew till he is re-elected as the chief minister.

Akhilesh has on different occasions been rebuked by his father for inefficient administration. Mulayam has also called the shots on the appointment of ministers and top officials in the UP government.

What has led to a turf war is who should be selected as candidates for the election. The Chief Minister’s preferences vary hugely from those of his father and Shivpal.