Uttar Pradesh’s ruling Samajwadi Party appeared headed for a split after Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav on Sunday sacked his uncle Shivpal Yadav and three other ministers from the cabinet.
The dramatic decision followed a meeting of Akhilesh Yadav with party legislators and looked like a tit-for-tat for the earlier dismissal of Akhilesh supporters from the party by Shivpal Yadav.
Besides senior minister Shivpal Yadav, recently named the state chief of the Samajwadi Party, the other ministers ousted from the cabinet are Narad Rai, Om Prakash and Shadab Fatima.
The development comes as a blow to frantic efforts by those in the party who wanted a patch-up between Akhilesh Yadav and his father and party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav.
On Sunday, Akhilesh Yadav openly blamed party MP and Mulayam Singh loyalist Amar Singh as the villain behind the unprecedented rift in the Samajwadi Party but said he had the highest regards for his father.
The Akhilesh Yadav camp also announced the expulsion of Jaya Prada, an actress-turned-politician considered close to Amar Singh, from the Uttar Pradesh Film Development Council.
Legislators who attended the meeting with the Chief Minister said Akhilesh Yadav made it clear that anyone close to Amar Singh cannot find a place in his government.
Akhilesh Yadav also described himself as the political successor to Mulayam Singh Yadav, the founder leader of the Samajwadi Party and one of the country’s most experienced politicians.
Raju Yadav, a legislator from Mainpuri, quoted the Chief Minister as saying that he was not intending to split the Samajwadi Party as it belonged to “Netaji” — as Mulayam Singh is popularly known.
Akhilesh Yadav also said he would attend on November 5 the Silver Jubilee function of the party, which has a brute majority in the 403-member assembly.
The legislators also told the media that Akhilesh Yadav got emotional while talking about his relations with his father and said anyone coming in between them would not be spared.
Soon after the meeting ended, the legislators trooped out shouting slogans hailing Akhilesh Yadav and denouncing Amar Singh. Amar Singh was openly referred to as a “dalal” (broker).
One insider said all efforts to bring peace in the Samajwadi Party were effectively over now and that the party may he headed for a vertical split between the two generations.
“This ‘dalal’ is responsible for all that has happened in the party,” fumed an angry young supporter of Akhilesh Yadav outside the Chief Minister’s residence, referring to Amar Singh.
“Right from day one we knew who was behind all the problems in the party, who was creating a rift between Shivpalji and Akhileshji,” he added.
Sunday’s sacking of ministers comes a day before Mulayam Singh meets party legislators in Lucknow.
After being ousted from the cabinet, Shivpal Yadav went to meet Mulayam Singh, who in the past has described Amar Singh as a confidant who had stood by him when all others deserted him.
Akhilesh Yadav had earlier refused to attend party meetings called by Shivpal Yadav on Friday and Saturday. Instead, he met the district party chiefs separately.
On Saturday, party leaders Beni Prasad Verma, Reoti Raman Singh and Naresh Agarwal said that any disrespect shown towards Mulayam Singh would not be tolerated.
Hours later, Udayveer Singh, an MLC considered close to Akhilesh Yadav, was expelled from the party for six years for asking Mulayam Singh to step down and hand over the party baton to his son.
And on Saturday evening, Shivpal Yadav filled up the vacancies of presidents in the party’s frontal wings and filled it with men known to be his followers.
Uttar Pradesh goes to the assembly polls early next year.