By Mohit Dubey
Lucknow–Notwithstanding the public bonhomie and fire-fighting in private, contradictions in the first family in Uttar Pradesh’s ruling Samajwadi Party (SP) are out in the open.
Coming before the state elects a government in early 2017, this does not seem to augur well for the party. Faced with strong anti-incumbency, the family seems ill-prepared to contain the political damage.
The latest salvo in the long list of the topsy-turvy relationship within the Yadav clan was fired after the merger of a two-legislator party — Quami Ekta Dal (QED) of gangleader-turned-politician Mukhtaar Ansari — on Tuesday.
While Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav distanced himself from the merger ceremony and flew out of Lucknow to Jaunpur to meet the family of a killed policeman on Tuesday, his uncle and PWD Minister Shivpal Singh Yadav embraced the QED leaders and said the merger would strengthen the SP.
Apparently incensed, the 43-year-old Chief Minister hit back and sacked senior party leader and Secondary Education Minister Balram Yadav for his alleged role in facilitating the merger.
This is seen in political circles here as a snub to Shivpal Singh Yadav. Close aides say Akhilesh Yadav was miffed. He felt the decision to induct Ansari had tainted the SP’s image.
Spin doctors of the government called up journalists at midnight to clarify and “set things in the right perspective” that the Chief Minister had nothing to do with the “criminal embrace”.
Informed sources say the Chief Minister was particular about the image he holds or seeks to portray in the public.
The sources also confirmed that Akhilesh Yadav has maintained that the SP does not need any alliances and it will fight the elections all alone on the strength of its development plank.
The rift in the first family has been in the news on and off in the past.
Akhilesh Yadav was against giving a Rajya Sabha ticket to Amar Singh and Beni Prasad Verma and opposed an electoral tie-up with Ajit Singh’s Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD).
The Chief Minister also threw a tantrum last year when his proteges Sajan Singh Yadav and Anand Bhadouria were expelled from the party by his father and SP patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav.
He skipped family and official functions and showed his reluctance to share the dais with his father.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) thinks the so-called infighting is all orchestrated.
BJP spokesman Vijay Bahadur Pathak said the “chacha-bhatija” were trying to fool the people by their histrionics.
A Bahujan Samaj Party leader said the sparring would only compound the problems of the ruling party and expedite its exit from power in 2017.
Most people agree that the “chacha-bhatija” war in particular and the family in general do not augur well for the SP, which won only five out of 80 seats in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls in UP and is desperate to win the assembly elections.