Truce in SP after Akhilesh, Ram Gopal re-inducted
Lucknow: Curtains came down on the ongoing fight in Uttar Pradesh’s ruling Samajwadi Party on Saturday with Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav and General Secretary Ram Gopal Yadav re-inducted, a day after their dramatic expulsion.
Party chief and family patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav ordered his younger brother Shivpal Singh Yadav to announce the decision after an emotional meeting between him and his son Akhilesh.
The development followed a definitive show of strength by Akhilesh as more than 200 party legislators turned up for a meeting convened at his official residence, and senior party leader Azam Khan playing peacemaker.
With the multitude of supporters outside and the lawmakers vouching their support for Yadav junior, it became clear by noon that he enjoyed more popularity among the party.
With the numbers dwindling at the party headquarters at Vikramaditya Marg where barely two dozen MLAs and a handful of the 393 candidates announced showing up, it was clear that Mulayam Singh would have to retreat.
The wrestler-turned-politician realised that his decision to expel Akhilesh Yadav was boomeranging on him and sought to fashion a compromise. Long-standing colleague and Urban Development Minister Azam Khan provided just the man for it.
He met Mulayam Singh and tried to convince him that not only was his Friday decision taken in haste, it was also politically not prudent, but Mulayam Singh asked him to rather try to make Akhilesh realise that he was jeopardising his political career by defying the party and him.
Sources said Azam Khan saw this as an “opening window” for some communication between the duo. After his closed-door meeting with the party chief, he drove straight to 5, Kalidas Marg residence of the Chief Minister and was closeted with him for over 20 minutes.
Azam Khan and Akhilesh then went to meet Mulayam Singh at his residence, just a few hundred metres away. The father-son had an emotional meeting, with Akhilesh touching his the senior Yadav’s feet and Mulayam Singh patting him gently on his shoulder.
But in the meeting, Akhilesh Yadav sought a “sammaanjanak waapasi” (honourable return) for himself and uncle Ram Gopal Yadav into the party fold and expulsion of the “conspirators” (in a reference to Amar Singh).
While Mulayam Singh accepted the first condition, he stuck to his guns on Amar Singh, and wondered aloud what harm Amar Singh had done to Akhilesh that he was after his scalp.
Shivpal Singh was soon summoned to the meeting by Mulayam Singh and after a brief discussion, asked to announce that the expulsions of the two leaders was being revoked. The first signals of a patch-up came as the official party website removed the expulsion letters of the leaders. Moments later it was public news.
Shivpal Singh later told reporters that the differences had been ironed out and that the party will now contest the forthcoming state assembly polls unitedly with a single purpose of “defeating the communal forces”. He also said the convention called by Ram Gopal Yadav on January 1 stands cancelled.
However, Ram Gopal Yadav announced that the convention, which sparked off their expulsion, would actually now be held in a larger place – the Janeshwar Mishra park – as scheduled. There was no official reaction from the Mulayam-Shivpal camp.
Earlier in the day, RJD chief Lalu Prasad had called up Mulayam Singh and asked him to reconsider his decision to expel his son. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Janata Dal-United leader Sharad Yadav had also reportedly spoken to Akhilesh and expressed their solidarity.
Though there was some confusion in the party rank and file whether the differences have been resolved or it was yet again a temporary truce, but most workers celebrated the revocation of Akhilesh Yadav’s expulsion.
Opposition parties however claimed that the entire episode was scripted and well-orchestrated drama.
Bharatiya Janata Party state General secretary Vijay Bahadur Pathak said in absence of anything worthwhile to show, Mulayam Singh had scripted the drama to weed out opposition in the party against his son and also to distract people.
Shrikant Sharma, the BJP’s media cell head in Delhi, told IANS that Akhilesh may have returned to the party but “the Samajwadi Party will not return to power” in Uttar Pradesh.
The Bahaujan Samaj Party also slammed its arch rivals for the “power struggle drama” and said a party which cannot trust each other should not expect people to trust them.