Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav indicated that his decision to strip his uncle Shivpal Yadav of some key portfolios was a way of asserting himself rather than be guided by his father Mulayam Singh on all matters.
"I normally take my decisions in consultation with Netaji [Mulayam Singh], but at times one has to apply his own mind and I too took some decisions on my own," he said, speaking to reporters after a photo-op at his official residence here.
The young chief minister relieved Shivpal, brother of Samajwadi Party [SP] supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav, of three key portfolios, irrigation, cooperation and PWD, on Tuesday. It was the culmination of a power play between nephew and uncle, marked by the transfer of the state’s chief secretary, Deepak Singhal, supposedly a Shivpal crony.
However, Akhilesh said the latest rupture was a problem in the government but not in the Yadav clan.
With the feud coming out in the open late Tuesday, Akhilesh skipped two official programmes on Wednesday, and pared down a function at his 5 Kailas Marg residence to just a photo-op.
But he did pause to answer a few questions from reporters. He was combative but said, "As far as the family is concerned, everyone abides by what Netaji says and I too will accept his words."
The significant stress on ‘family’ and omission of ‘government’ in that response indicates the nuance Akhilesh wants to convey: that as chief minister of a state, he is his own man.
After the transfer of the chief secretary, Mulayam Singh’s response was to sack his son from the post Samajwadi Party UP unit, perhaps to smooth the ruffled feathers of his brother.
But within hours a peeved chief minister hit back by clipping his uncle's wings in his ministry.
The young chief minister was said to be cut up that chief secretary Deepak Singhal had been one of the invitees to a dinner hosted in Delhi recently by Rajya Sabha MP Amar Singh. This went down with Akhilesh as interference in his administration by "outsiders". Akhilesh himself had given a miss to the dinner, but his father went.
Mincing no words, the chief minister said, "Those whom I have removed...people are well aware of their image."
Singhal was shown the door barely two months after he took charge. Singhal was earlier Principal Secretary (Irrigation), a department held by Shivpal. Another minister who fell foul of the chief minister was mining minister Gayatri Prajapti.