Supporters of rival SP factions on Monday clashed outside the party headquarters in Lucknow ahead of a crucial meeting called by Mulayam Singh Yadav.
Camp followers of Akhilesh and his sacked uncle Shivpal Yadav exchanged blows as tension mounted before the meet.
Police used force to disperse the slogan-shouting supporters who tried to break the cordon to march towards the party office.
Tension was palpable much before the meeting began with youth supporters of Akhilesh, who sought to mount pressure on the leadership in support of the chief minister.
The meeting, where Akhilesh was present, assumed significance a day after he engaged in a face-off with his father by sacking each other’s loyalists Ramgopal Yadav and Shivpal Yadav.
Akhilesh on Sunday first sacked Shivpal, his uncle and party’s state unit chief, along with three other “pro-Amar Singh” ministers from his Cabinet. Mulayam, in a tit-for-tat action, expelled Ramgopal, pro-CM cousin and SP’s national general secretary, from the party for six years.
The crisis in the first family of Uttar Pradesh unfolded on Sunday when Akhilesh held a meeting of party legislators, a day ahead of a mega meeting of party MPs, MLAs, MLCs and ministers called by Mulayam.
After the meeting, the chief minister recommended to Governor Ram Naik that Shivpal, Narad Rai and Om Prakash Singh (all Cabinet ministers) and Sayeda Shadab Fatima (MoS – Independent charge) be sacked from his ministry. This was accepted immediately.
While the meeting was underway, hundreds of Akhilesh’s supporters were raising slogans in his favour outside.
Significantly, before Akhilesh announced the sacking of Shivpal and three other ministers, Ramgopal issued a letter written to party workers, expressing support to the Chief Minister and warning those opposing him.
After his sacking, Shivpal met Mulayam at his residence, which is just nearby that of the CM’s bungalow.
Hours later, he announced that the SP chief had expelled Ramgopal from the party for six years.
(With inputs from PTI)