Uttar Pradesh’s ruling Samajwadi Party tried to put up a united face today at its mega celebrations in Lucknow for its 25th birthday, but the peace seemed fragile as Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav and his uncle Shivpal took many pot shots at each other.
Amid a bitter power tussle between the two leaders, Akhilesh Yadav took a dig at uncle Shivpal saying, “You gave me sword, don’t want me to use it”.
This came right after Shivpal Yadav’s veiled attack on Akhilesh. He said, “Ask for blood, I shall give blood. Don’t make me chief minister, insult me if you will, I know I have done good work.”
“This government has done a lot of good work, I too have contributed for four years,” he added.
Earlier, the two leaders showed unusual bonhomie wherein Akhilesh touched the feet of Shivpal Yadav. The UP Chief Minister had sacked Shivpal Yadav twice as minister in his government last month.
Shivpal Yadav gave all the credit to the SP’s success in UP to older brother and party chief Mulayam Singh, who launched the party on this day on 1992. “It is because of Netaji’s struggle and the risks he took that SP was able to form government in UP not once but thrice,” he said.
Shivpal Yadav, who is also the Samajwadi Party’s UP chief, referred to that in his speech on a stage that he shared not only with his nephew and older brother Mulayam Singh Yadav, but also top leaders of other parties like Lalu Yadav of the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), Janata Dal-United leaders Sharad Yadav and KC Tyagi, former prime minister HD Deve Gowda, RLD Cheif Ajit Singh, Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) leader Abhay Chautala and noted lawyer Ram Jethmalani.
Hinting at a possibility of the Grand Alliance, RJD chief Lalu Yadav said, “We are here to strengthen Samajwadi Party. We have chased away BJP in Bihar. Just like ‘geedad’ (jackal) is chased away we will chase away BJP from UP too.”
Mulayam Singh hopes to rope in the other parties in a “Grand Alliance” as his party counters strong challenges from the BJP and arch rival Mayawati’s BSP. But the family feud, in which he has consistently back his brother, has threatened to trip those plans.
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar made his excuses saying he had a previous engagement at home. He is said to be wary of an alliance till Mulayam Singh puts his house in order.
It was at the head of a “Grand Alliance” in Bihar that Nitish Kumar bested the BJP to return as chief minister last year. Mulayam Singh had walked out of that alliance in what was seen as a mis-fire.