Is all well in Uttar Pradesh's ruling Samajwadi Party? While officially, party leaders scoff at reports of "naraazgi" (anger) between Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav and his father, party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav (MSY), events over the last week suggest to the contrary.And it all seems to have been triggered, in long term, by the continuous "needling" of MSY, sources say and of late the expulsion of three closest party leaders of the chief minister - Anand Bhadauria, Sunil Yadav 'Sajan' and Subodh Yadav.On Friday, as PWD minister and MSY's younger brother Shivpal Singh Yadav signed the letter of the trio's expulsion, the ruling party was jolted like never before.
While the official line was that the party leadership acted against the young leaders for their "anti-party acts in the gram pradhan polls", insiders say it was a result of the power tussle between the two generations in the family. "It is a public humiliation of Bhaiyya ji (as the chief minister is called) by the elders in the family and does not augur well for everyone" said a close aide of Akhilesh Yadav.Insiders admit that the chief minister was very miffed by the fact that the three leaders, who have been with him before the party stormed to power in 2012, were not suspended but expelled from the party. While the matter was discussed with Akhilesh by Shivpal and Mulayam, a source told IANS, the chief minister had walked out of the close door meeting when it was decided to boot the three young leaders out.
In fact Akhilesh, known for his smiles and keeping calm publicly is so angry that for the first time since he was sworn in as the chief minister, he skipped the Saifai Mahotsava for two consecutive days. With the annual cultural jamboorie a family affair, the absence of Akhilesh has not been missed by old-timers and many feel that the 42-year-old might have finally thrown in his towel.Sources say that while Akhilesh, like an obedient son, has been overlooking public reprimands of his father, much to his embarrassment though, this time the "wound is much deeper". "See, the chief minister is trying to do some good work, many development projects are on the roll, the general perception about the government is improving...in such circumstances, such developments bode ill for him and the party," a close friend of Akhilesh said.
Mulayam in the past, on at least four occasions, has publicly chided the chief minister, leading to resentment in the rank and file. Many say, if there were indeed some issues between the two where they differ, the discourse should be at home rather than at public platforms. "Such things hurt the party's image and I am sure rattle the confidence of the young chief minister," a senior minister said.Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) state spokesman Vijay Bahadur Pathak saw it as a "tussle for power within the Yadav clan"."The knives are out in the open and the fight for supremacy has begun. There has always been simmering tension between the two camps, it's just that now it is in open and very evident," the BJP leader added.A close associate of Mualayam however, claimed that 'neta-ji' was right in expelling the three young leaders as he has never tolerated anyone who is detrimental to the party. "Neta-ji can never be wrong or against his son. Wasn't he who appointed Akhilesh as the chief minister" the associate asked, adding that while there may be serious differences between the two, nothing was alarming!Budayun MP and cousin Dharmendra Yadav claimed that the chief ministers "was just busy and not angry" and that he will soon be seen in Saifai. Close officials say it is all temporary and that "things will be sorted out soon." For now, however, these voices of sanity comes across as not very reassuring!