New Delhi: The Samajwadi party’s family feud – which looked close to resolution on December 31 with the expulsions of Akhilesh Yadav and senior party leader Ramgopal Yadav revoked by party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav – took yet another dramatic turn on Sunday afternoon when around 5000 supporters of Akhilesh named him the party’s chief in place of the septuagenarian Mulayam at the party’s national convention in Lucknow.
After having been expelled, Ramgopal, considered to be Akhilesh’s guide, had called the national convention. As both leaders had already been re-inducted into the party, the convention, at first, appeared to have lost its importance.
However, with Akhilesh, who is chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, using it to stage a coup against his father, the Samajwadi Party is staring at a split again.
Earlier on Sunday morning, amidst reports of the Akhilesh camp mobilising the CM’s supporters for the convention, Mulayam in a letter issued by the party declared the meeting ‘unconstitutional’ and warned of strict action against anyone who attended it.
The meeting adopted three resolutions through voice vote. First, that Akhilesh should immediately replace Mulayam as the party’s chairman and that the founder of the party should be given the role of ‘chief mentor’.
Second, Akhilesh’s uncle, Shivpal Yadav, should be removed from the position of UP state president of the party with immediate effect.
Third, Amar Singh, also seen by the Akhilesh faction as the main troublemaker, should be expelled from the party immediately.
As all the resolutions received unanimous support, Ramgopal announced Akhilesh’s name as the party’s chairman – precipitating the biggest crisis in the ongoing family feud since September last year.
“The whole country should understand that I will respect Netaji (Mulayam Singh) more than ever… if people are conspiring against Netaji, it is my duty to act against them,”Akhilesh told his supporters while accepting his new role.
“I am ready to sacrifice everything for the Samajwadi Party,” he added, thanking everyone who stood by him through the tussle for power within the first family of Uttar Pradesh’s ruling party.
The meeting, where slogans of “Jai Akhilesh” echoed throughout, was a clear show of strength for the chief minister.
Sunday’s developments marked the first time Akhilesh staged a direct political manoeuvre against Mulayam. Although he had made his reservations against his father quite clear, he had only accused him of being misguided by Shivpal and Amar Singh.
Immediately after the coup, Mulayam expelled Ramgopal and Kiranmoy Nanda, another senior leader of the party. He also called for the party’s national convention on January 5 to discuss future action against the rebels, but has since postponed the meeting.
Meanwhile, Akhilesh’s camp appointed senior leader Naresh Chandra Uttam as the new UP state president for the party.
The party is now gearing up for a frontal battle between the two factions on January 5. Though Mulayam has called the party meet, it remains to be seen who will address the meeting as Akhilesh may try to assume the role of party chairman that day.