In a major decision amid the ongoing family feud, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav on Sunday dealt a severe blow to his uncle Shivpal Yadav, sacking him from the State cabinet. Three other ministers-cabinet ministers Narad Rai and Om Prakash Singh, and MoS Shadab Fatima-were also sacked.
Controversial Minister Gayatri Prasad Prajapati was also sacked. He had been sacked earlier by Akhilesh but had to be brought back to the cabinet on insistence of Mulayam.
Mr. Yadav took the drastic step after a meeting with State MLAs and MLCs at his official residence in Lucknow. Shivpal Yadav and some MLAs loyal to him were not invited.
He had convened the meeting a day before SP chief Mulayam Singh is scheduled to hold a crucial meeting with party legislators, former MPs and MLAs, candidates and block heads, in indicating of the seriousness of the feud.
The MLAs who attended Mr. Yadav’s meeting said he told them anybody close to Amar Singh had no place in his cabinet.
Earlier in the day, SP general secretary and Rajya Sabha MP Ramgopal Yadav wrote a one-page letter to party workers endorsing Akhilesh as the future of party. In a hand-written note released at 6 am with a dateline Mumbai, Mr. Ramgopal appealed his “dear colleagues” to ensure that a State government was formed under the leadership of his nephew. He said those supporting Akhilesh were “positive” while his detractors were “negative.” A cousin of Mulayam Singh, Mr. Ramgopal also distinguished between those supporting Akhilesh, saying they had “spilled blood for the party and made great sacrifices,” from those in the rival camp, alleging they had “minted crores and misused power.”
“Those opposing Akhilesh will not be able to see the face of the Vidhan Sabha. The Rath Yatra is the noose in the rival’s neck…Don’t get perturbed, don’t be jolted. Where Akhilesh is, victory follows,” Mr. Ramgopal wrote.
Mr. Shivpal’s sacking comes a day after a close aide of Akhilesh Yadav, MLC Udayveer Singh was expelled from the Samajwadi Party, a few days after he shot off a stinging letter to party boss Mulayam Singh accusing his second wife of hatching a conspiracy against the Chief Minister.
Mr. Udayveer Singh had earlier this week also announced that he along with other Mr. Akhilesh loyalists would boycott the SP’s silver celebrations on November in protest of the expulsion of many of their colleagues by Mr. Mulayam and Mr. Shivpal.
Mr. Udayveer Singh was expelled from the SP for six years for indulging in “anti-party activities,” “indiscipline” and “working against the principles and polices” of the party, said Deepak Mishra, SP spokesperson and close aide of Shivpal Yadav.
The resolution against the young MLC was passed unanimously in the party’s state executive meeting held here, where his “objectionable, undignified and derogatory remarks” against the party supremo were “condemned,” Mr. Mishra said. A resident of Firozabad, Mr. Udayveer Singh, an M.Phil degree holder from JNU, is among Akhilesh Yadav’s most trusted men. The two went to the same school in Dholpur. Soon after Mr. Akhilesh Yadav earlier this week announced that he would start the party’s campaign on his own with a rath yatra on November 3, Mr. Udayveer wrote a four-page note to Mulayam Singh alleging that his second wife Sadhna Gupta was conspiring against Akhilesh due to personal envy.
The letter also mentions the use of black magic against Akhilesh Yadav by his step-mother. Though she remained “behind the scenes,” Shivpal Yadav acted as her “political front,” Mr. Udayveer wrote. In the strongly-worded letter, the MLC cited several reasons for the ongoing feud in the family, including wrong advice and feedback to Mulayam about Akhilesh, conspiracy within the family and personal envy against Akhilesh further fermented by outsiders like Amar Singh.
While asking Mulayam to clarify on his political successor, Mr. Udayveer also demanded that Akhilesh Yadav be made the party’s national president so that there was no room for speculations or doubt. He should not just be a face but also needs to be empowered to take political decisions, the MLC argued.
Reacting to his expulsion, Mr. Udayveer said he had no regrets and expressed loyalty to Akhilesh Yadav. “I stand by what I wrote,” he said, adding that he was upset not over his sacking but by the fact that the “truth” was being kept away from Mulayam. Sources said the expulsion had shocked and further confused the SP cadre and leaders in the Akhilesh camp.
His sacking comes at a critical time when the SP supremo is trying a fire fight a seemingly unending family feud, involving himself, his younger brother, cousin and son. Last month Mr. Shivpal had dealt a severe blow to Akhilesh after he sacked four leaders from his core group. On Saturday, Mr. Shivpal announced the new top office-bearers of the party’s frontal organizations—the Yuvajan Sabha, minority wing, Mulyam Singh Youth brigade and Lohia Vahini. It came a day after Akhilesh Yadav skipped an important strategy meeting of SP district and city unit presidents called by his uncle. Though the CM met the delegates later at his official residence, it did little to diffuse the tension, even as SP old-timers tried to mediate a thaw to the ongoing crisis.