SP rift: Mulayam to head new, secular front, says Shivpal
Fissures in the Samajwadi Party (SP) on Thursday resurfaced with senior leader Shivpal Yadav declaring that his brother Mulayam Singh Yadav will head a secular front to be formed by him.
Shivpal, who retained the Jaswantnagar seat in the just-concluded Uttar Pradesh Assembly election, had recently given an ultimatum that a "secular front" would be formed if Akhilesh Yadav did not hand over the reins of the SP back to his father Mulayam within three months.
"For social justice, the Samajwadi Secular Morcha will be formed and netaji (Mulayam) will be its national president," he told reporters in Etawah, the bastion of the Yadav clan.
Within hours of the announcement, Akhilesh said he came to know about it via media.
"I came to know about it through the media. If such a front is formed, it is good for the country," the SP national president said, while evading a direct reply when asked by reporters to comment on the development at the party office here.
Shivpal, the warring uncle of Akhilesh, made the announcement of Mulayam heading the secular front after a meeting with the SP patriarch at a relative's house in Etawah this morning.
The two leaders held discussions on forming the new front.
Shivpal, however, did not explain what the new front's future course of action would be -- whether it would contest elections against the SP or strengthen it by bringing the socialists under one roof.
The senior SP leader had been mulling to launch a campaign to bring the 'samajwadis' (socialists) on a single platform.
"Akhilesh had promised to hand over the party's reins to netaji. He should do that now and all of us will strengthen the SP. I had given him three months' time. If he fails to hand over the charge of the party to netaji by then, I will form a new secular front," he had said on Wednesday.
The SP had witnessed a bitter feud between uncle Shivpal and nephew Akhilesh in the run-up to the Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls.
Shivpal had earlier replaced Akhilesh as the SP's Uttar Pradesh unit chief following which, the then chief minister Akhilesh had removed Shivpal from his cabinet.
Many in the SP had blamed the power struggle between Akhilesh and Shivpal as the reason behind the party's dismal performance in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly election.
The SP, under Akhilesh's leadership, suffered a humiliating defeat in the polls at the hands of the BJP. The SP-Congress alliance managed to win only 54 seats (SP 47, Congress seven) as opposed to the BJP-led NDA's 325.
Mulayam had earlier blamed Akhilesh for the SP's poor performance in the Uttar Pradesh polls and said his son had insulted him.
He had said the voters realised that "one who is not loyal to his father, cannot be loyal to anyone".
"I was insulted, something which I had never faced in my life. Nevertheless, I had tolerated it. No leader of any party in India had made his son a chief minister during his lifetime, but I made Akhilesh the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh," he had said.
After filing his nomination for the state polls in January, Shivpal had said he would float a new party after the election results were declared.
But, subsequently he had said there was no such plan.
"Those claiming to be samajwadis had distributed tickets during the (2014) Lok Sabha polls and the party managed to win only five of the 80 seats in the state. It was because of them that in the Assembly polls, the party's tally came down to 47 from 227 in the 403-member House. They themselves should analyse (the reasons)," he had said.
Shivpal had recently said, "We will not let the legacy of samajwad (socialism) weaken and will soon launch a campaign to bring the socialists on one platform."