Simmering intrigue within the Yadav clan ruling Uttar Pradesh spilled out into the open with chief minister Akhilesh Yadav stripping his uncle and cabinet colleague Shivpal Yadav of some key portfolios late Tuesday and the latter running to his brother and the chief minister’s father Mulayam Singh Yadav for ‘guidance.’
The state will go to polls early next year, and this feud in the family is likely to open up interesting equations.
On the morrow after his decision, the young chief minister cancelled some official engagements, while the uncle rushed to the Mulayam Singh’s native village of Saifai.
The Samajwadi Party chieftain switched to damage control by inviting Shivpal and party elder Ram Gopal Yadav for a meeting in New Delhi.
This is an unprecedented crisis in the poll-bound state, and speculation was rife that Shivpal will quit the cabinet altogether. Shivpal conceded that giving and taking portfolios was the discretion of his young nephew but party matters were Mulayam Singh’s preserve.
"It is the discretion of CM to give or take portfolios and remove officers. I will follow Netaji's directions and will fulfil responsibilities given by him," he told reporters in Saifai.
Asked what next, Shivpal said, "I will talk to Netaji [Mulayam)."
To a probing question who would be the party’s chief ministerial candidate for the polls, Shivpal pointedly avoided mentioning Akhilesh’s name, stating that it was for the Samajwadi party Parliamentary Board to decide.
From Saifai Shivpal flew to Delhi as bid by his brother. Thousands of his supporters gathered outside his residence there and the PWD guest house to express solidarity with him.
The long-simmering feud was brought to flashpoint on Tuesday when chief minister shunted out chief secretary Deepak Singhal, supposedly a Shivpal Yadav's favourite.
Perhaps to smooth the feathers of his brother, Mulayam Singh took away the post of Samajwadi Party UP chief from his son. Within hours a peeved chief minister hit back by divesting his uncle of three key portfolios: public works department, irrigation and cooperation.
The crisis comes at a time when the Samajwadi Party is in the midst of the ticket distribution process for next year’s elections.