LUCKNOW/NEW DELHI: The feud in ruling SP's first family in Uttar Pradesh showed no signs of ending today even as party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav stepped in to defuse the crisis and his son and Chief Minister Akhilesh sought to downplay differences.
An open war broke out yesterday in the Samajwadi Party(SP) with Akhilesh Yadav stripping his uncle Shivpal Yadav of key ministerial portfolios, hours after his removal as the party's state unit chief and appointment of the latter in his place.
An indication that the crisis in the SP lingered on came when Shivpal told Mulayam that despite following his orders he was being painted as a villain.
Shivpal, who is the younger brother of Mulayam, reached Delhi to meet the party chief at his official residence. In his over four-hour-long meeting, Shivpal explained that in the past four-and-a-half years, he has followed the party supremo's directions despite having difference of opinion on certain issues.
Sources close to Shivpal said he gave examples that as a senior minister in the Akhilesh government, he never publically opposed the decisions taken by Akhilesh or Mulayam though he may have expressed difference of opinion in private to them.
Though, later talking to reporters, Shivpal rejected suggestions that there were differences within the party and the Yadav clan.
"Neither am I angry nor is Netaji (Mulayam). We all are happy...there are no differences," he said. The SP top brass swung into a damage control mode earlier in the day to keep the flock together ahead of Assembly polls, with Mulayam calling Shivpal for a meeting in New Delhi.
Mulayam is likely to reach Lucknow on Friday morning amid indications that he may have a one-on-one meeting with Akhilesh there.
As the SP plunged into crisis, the chief minister stayed put in his 5, Kalidas Marg official residence in Lucknow since morning to take stock of the situation and did not attend two official engagements.
Amid differences with his uncle, Akhilesh was combative on the decisions taken by him that have led to internal feuds coming out in the open even as he said that there might be problems in the government, but not in the family.
Akhilesh said that he too will follow the directions of his father.
"If I have taken any decision, it was in consultation with 'netaji', but at times one has to apply his own mind and I too took some decisions on my own," he said.
But to a question, he said, "As far as family is concerned, everyone abides by what 'netaji' (Mulayam Singh Yadav) says and will accept his words."
"There may be problems in the government, but not in the family," he said on the sidelines of an event at his official residence.
Apparently referring to Rajya Sabha member Amar Singh, who had recently hosted a dinner in Delhi where Deepak Singhal, who was shunted from post of Chief Secretary, was present, Akhilesh asked if "outsiders" interfere, how would the party function.