Akhilesh Yadav is once again getting strong warning signals from estranged uncle Shivpal Yadav, after a brief truce. Shivpal Yadav, the brother of former Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, has sent out feelers that he may quit the Samajwadi Party and form a new outfit that will work with the BJP in Uttar Pradesh for the 2019 national election.
It all comes down to respect.
“I have constituted a Samajwadi Secular Morcha. Those not being given any respect should come with us. We will also try to bring together smaller parties,” Shivpal Yadav said in Lucknow.
Asked whether he was quitting the Samajwadi Party, he hedged. “Why don’t you go ask Akhilesh Yadav if I should quit?” he shrugged.
He elaborated that he would tour districts and “eventually take a call”, asserting that his idea of a front of smaller parties is no idle plan.
“I am looking to make this a front of all people who are unhappy with the way things are in the party,” said Shivpal Yadav, who was a state minister when Akhilesh Yadav was chief minister.
It’s not clear if Akhilesh Yadav’s father Mulayam Singh, who had also complained recently about not being given any respect, would go with his brother.
Shivpal Yadav had first announced a secular front in July last year, three months after the Samajwadi Party, under the leadership of Akhilesh Yadav, lost badly to the BJP in the state elections.
Those elections were preceded by a bitter family feud within the Samajwadi Party, in which Akhilesh Yadav effectively sidelined both his father and uncle to take over as Samajwadi Party president.
Shivpal Yadav, who was a high-profile minister in the Akhilesh Yadav government between 2012 and 17, fell out with Akhilesh Yadav at the start of 2016 and was removed as minister more than once by Akhilesh.
Despite presiding over the UP defeat, Akhilesh Yadav has held on to this leadership post in the Samajwadi party and will be its main face and chief campaigner for the 2019 general election.
Under Akhilesh Yadav’s leadership, the party tied up with Mayawati, once an arch political rival, and the new alliance resulted in victory in Lok Sabha by-polls in four UP seats this year, including the Gorakhpur seat held in the past by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.
A few days ago, Shivpal Yadav had grumbled that senior leaders like him were not being given any work in the party.
Sources say Shivpal Yadav has met with Yogi Adityanath at least thrice in the last few months. A few days ago, he also reportedly met with state minister Om Prakash Rajbhar, an ally of the BJP.
Reacting to the news, Akhilesh Yadav said the Samajwadi Party would move forward. “As the elections come closer, you will hear more such news. The important thing is to be focused,” said the former chief minister, who appeared unfazed.