SP puts up united show at party gala, but rankles remain (Roundup)

Lucknow, Nov 5 (IANS) Uttar Pradesh’s ruling Samajwadi Party tried to put up a united face at its silver jubilee gala here on Saturday, but the peace seemed fragile as state party chief Shivpal Singh Yadav took pot shots at his nephew and Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav who denied any infighting.

Addressing the massive gatherings at the sprawling Janeshwar Mishra Park here, Akhilesh Yadav tried to crease over the differences – that burst into the open last month and have continued to rankle the Samajwadi Party as the state heads for assembly polls early next year. Akhilesh said there was no infighting and that the party would “unitedly” fight the 2017 assembly elections on the SP symbol.

But Shivpal, who was sacked as a minister twice in a month by Akhilesh, could not refrain from taking digs at his nephew. Shivpal said he was neither greedy for any post nor any ministry. He also said that while some people get power in lineage, there were many who were silent workers. His apparent hint was at Akhilesh being anointed as the successor of party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav.

Earlier, speaking at the event to mark the silver jubilee of his party, Akhilesh said if there was a need to undergo a test, he was ready for it.

“If any test is to be undertaken, I am ready for it,” the Chief Minister said, while listing the achievements of his government. Adding that unprecedented developmental work had been initiated by his government, Akhilesh said he was sure that due to this work and the hard work of party workers, the SP will storm back to power once again in Uttar Pradesh.

Later, speaking to reporters on the sidelines, Akhilesh denied any rift in the Samajwadi Party. “There is no rift in the party, and all of us will fight the elections on the party’s symbol ‘cycle’,” Yadav said.

Akhilesh also paid his regards to his father and SP national president Mulayam Singh Yadav for bringing the party to this level.

Shivpal Singh Yadav, during his address, said he wanted to once again reiterate that he was not after any post or ministry.

“I have said it in the past and am saying it again that becoming Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh was never my ambition, and I reiterate it,” Shivpal said as his supporters applauded. He also said his contribution to the party’s growth and the state government headed by Akhilesh was no less.

“Have I not worked hard? Have the departments I held did any lesser work?” he asked and informed how maximum work in the present government was done by his departments like PWD and Irrigation, which he was divested of by Akhilesh. He listed various projects to support his contention.

Shivpal also informed the gathering that 42 new tehsils (revenue subdivisions) had been created in the last two years alone, while he was state minister. Asking for respect, a visibly emotional Shivpal said the Chief Minister can go on and ask for any sacrifice from him.

“If the party so requires, I am ready to even offer them my blood,” he said.

Later, when a former minister of state and member of the youth brigade Javed Abdi started speaking on the dais and started eulogising Akhilesh, he was pushed away by Shivpal Yadav. Before this, Shivpal was called by party supremo and elder brother Mulayam Singh Yadav and asked to tell Abdi to go away.

This, political observers here say, was another indication that all is still not well within the party.

Earlier, the two sides showed unusual bonhomie and when RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav tried to ensure a handshake between Shivpal and Akhilesh, the latter touched the feet of his uncle.

As the organiser of the event that saw lakhs turn up to witness the old socialist allies come together, Shivpal welcomed guests like former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda, Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad Yadav, former Janata Dal-United president Sharad Yadav, RLD chief Ajeet Singh and others.