UP chief minister Akhilesh Yadav on Tuesday met his father and SP patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav in Lucknow, sending signals of a rapprochement between the bickering factions in the ruling party.
The 90-minute one-to-one meeting at Mulayam’s residence took place against the backdrop of the SP patriarch yesterday declaring his son as the chief ministerial candidate of the party.
In signs of reconciliation, Akhilesh walked down to his father’s bungalow next door – the houses are interconnected – for the crucial meeting, the outcome of which will definitely have a bearing on SP’s electoral prospects in the poll-bound state.
Party insiders said Akhilesh’s warring uncle Shivpal Yadav and Rajya Sabha member Amar Singh, often described as an outsider in the Yadav clan, were not present at today’s father-son meeting.
After the meeting, Akhilesh proceeded to the chief minister’s residence without responding to media questions.
Today’s meeting was held after a significant climbdown by Mulayam, who had last night said, “Akhilesh will be the chief minister after the election, there is no confusion about it.”
The last such meeting between father and son last week had failed to end the impasse in the party which saw a vertical split as Akhilesh was anointed SP chief in place of Mulayam.
Amid a bitter tussle for control over the party, Mulayam had never projected Akhilesh as SP chief ministerial candidate and had rather asserted several times that only he will decide who will be the CM if SP came back to power in UP, where assembly elections will be held in seven phases from next month.
Party observers pointed out that the absence of Shivpal and Amar Singh at today’s meeting was quite significant as their presence might have put off Akhilesh who is not on the same page with his uncle and the Rajya Sabha MP.
They said Mulayam perhaps wanted to settle the matter once and for all by not inviting them for the talks.
Akhilesh’s rebellion against his father veers around a demand that Shivpal and Amar Singh be removed from decision making.
The Chief Minister accuses them of instigating Mulayam against him.
Mulayam, however, has so far not indicated that he could meet his son’s demand on his two close aides.
Ramgopal Yadav, another uncle of Akhilesh, is on the side of the chief minister and is often accused by the Mulayam camp of misguiding the son.
Ramgopal has spearheaded Akhilesh’s solo campaign, calling a party meeting on January 1 in which the chief minister was declared Samajwadi Party president in place of his father.
He also carried to the Election Commission six boxes of documents to prove that Akhilesh commands the loyalty of most party leaders and lawmakers and so is the real leader of the Samajwadi Party and must be permitted to retain the party’s ‘cycle’ symbol to contest the UP elections.
But, in the process, he invited the wrath of Mulayam who demanded derecognition of Ramgopal as leader of SP in Rajya Sabha following his expulsion from the party.
Mulayam wrote to Rajya Sabha Chairman Hamid Ansari informing him about the expulsion of Ramgopal from the party and, in effect, as its leader in the Upper House.
He also urged Ansari to shift Ramgopal’s seat to the back benches following his expulsion from the party.
(With inputs from PTI)