Lucknow: Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav met his father and Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav after meeting many lawmakers and other leaders of the party at his 5 Kalidas Marg residence cum office in Lucknow this morning. The Akhilesh camp claimed that over 190 lawmakers came to meet the chief minister.
On Friday evening Mulayam Singh Yadav expelled Akhilesh from the party for six years, for refusing to accept the candidates he had chosen for the UP elections. Mulayam Singh said he had no choice and wanted to “save the party”. Akhilesh Yadav has made no public comments since he was sacked, but hundreds of party workers gathered outside his residence on Friday evening raising slogans of support.
Senior leader and cabinet minister Azam Khan accompanied Akhilesh Yadav for his meeting with Mulayam Singh Yadav at the Samajwadi Party chief’s residence, less than a kilometre away from 5 Kalidas Marg. With the party split down the middle between father and son, all eyes are now on the 229 Samajwadi Party lawmakers and who they will support.
Mulayam Singh Yadav had also called a meeting this morning at his residence – about a kilometre away – of all the candidates that he has named for the UP assembly elections, which will be announced any day now.
Mulayam Singh’s list of candidates includes many sitting MLAs. But only about 20 legislators showed up for the meeting, along with about 60 other candidates.
Who has the bigger support in the Samajwadi Party will also be tested tomorrow, when Akhilesh Yadav has called for a national convention of the party. Mulayam Singh has appealed to party leaders and workers not to attend what he called an “illegal” meeting since it was called by him, the party president.
Mulayam Singh has said that he will soon name the next chief minister, and there is speculation that Akhilesh Yadav could be asked by Governor Ram Naik to prove his majority on the floor of the house.
Friday’s fast-paced and dramatic events came after months of a bitter tussle for control in the party between Akhilesh Yadav, 44, and his uncle Shivpal Yadav, who is Mulayam Singh’s younger brother. Mulayam Singh has consistently sided with Shivpal, who replaced Akhilesh as the party’s UP chief some months ago.
Earlier this week, Mulayam Singh announced a list of candidates for the UP elections,excluding several of Akhilesh Yadav’s key aides. Candidates recommended by Shivpal Yadav were favoured, including some with criminal backgrounds who were fiercely opposed by the chief minister.
An upset Akhilesh first tried to reason with his father and then released a separate list of candidates. It was when his staunch supporter and Mulayam’ cousin Ram Gopal called Sunday’s meeting without the party chief’s consent that both Akhilesh and Ram Gopal were expelled.
Akhilesh Yadav could now either try to establish that he has the bigger support and so his faction is the “real Samajwadi Party”, or he could contest the UP elections on his own by floating a new party.