Amid hopes of rapprochement in the family after the Mulayam Singh Yadav’s demise, Shivpal Singh Yadav, estranged uncle of Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav, on Wednesday said it is not the time to take any decision about his future course of action.
Akhilesh Yadav, Mulayam Singh’s son, became the party president in 2017 after a feud with uncle Shivpal Yadav, president of Pragatisheel Samajwadi Party (Lohia).
Shivpal Yadav’s comment came in reply to a question whether the family would unite once again.
“This is not the time to take any decision. We are presently not in a situation to decide what I have to do and not,” Shivpal told reporters in Safai.
To persistent queries on his role under the changed circumstances, he said, “Let’s see what responsibility is given (to me).”
Shivpal had won from the Jaswantnagar seat on an SP ticket in the 2022 Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections. But soon after, his relationship with Akhilesh turned sour yet again after Shivpal was allegedly not invited to the party’s legislative meeting.
The origins of the feud
The feud between Shivpal and Akhilesh dates back to 2012. It was the year when Samajwadi Party won a full majority in the Uttar Pradesh assembly for the first time. Shivpal, who had been Mulayam’s confidant and right-hand since the party was launched in 1989, was taken aback when Mulayam installed son Akhilesh as the chief minister.
Akhilesh had been an MP, but not an MLA till then. So, when Mulayam took a step back from chief ministership, Shivpal felt that he should have been the chief minister. More so as Mulayam knew the hold Shivpal had on the Samajwadi Party cadre.
Akhilesh’s coronation did not go down well with his uncle who had to serve under him in the state cabinet. The grouse remained for the years to come and Shivpal sulked. Differences came out in the open before 2017 assembly elections and the uncle split with his nephew. Mulayam initially sided with Shivpal but later made amends with Akhilesh. Truce was called before 2022 elections but that too did not last long. Mulayam by that time was stepping back from active public life and Akhilesh had emerged as the undisputed chief of Samajwadi Party.
Many SP supporters would be hoping that Mulayam’s demise might change the situation and Akhilesh and Shivpal unite to strengthen the party.
Tens of thousands of people turned up at the funeral of Samajwadi Party patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav at his native village on Tuesday, bidding farewell to a leader who influenced politics far beyond his home state. The SP patriarch, a three-time CM and former defence minister, died at a Gurugram hospital on Monday.
Akhilesh’s heartfelt tweet
In the first comment after lighting the funeral pyre of his father, Akhilesh summed up his feelings through a tweet as the male family members got down to the post-cremation ritual of shaving off their heads.
‘Aaj pehli baar laga, bin suraj ke uga savera’ (For the first time it felt like morning has arrived without the sun), Akhilesh tweeted, sharing two pictures of the place where the socialist leader was cremated.
Besides Akhilesh, Shivpal, who had floated his own party after falling out with his nephew, was also among those who took part in the head shaving ritual.
Shivpal remembers elder brother
Recalling his brother, Shivpal said, “Netaji had very good relations with leaders of all the parties and that was evident in the huge turnout at the cremation yesterday (Tuesday).”
“Wherever he had been, be it Lok Sabha or Vidhan Sabha, he had the concern for the farmers and the deprived section of society,” Shivpal said, adding that he had always “served Netaji and did whatever he asked me to do and never did anything without his assent.”
“I had also formed the party after he told me to do so,” he added.
The bypoll to Mainpuri Lok Sabha seat, which Mulayam Singh represented in the present term, would reveal the path Chacha-Bhatija (uncle-nephew) would take.
(With Agency inputs)