Amidst talk of split, Samajwadi Party (SP) patron Mulayam Singh Yadav has ruled out forming a party “as of now”, ending speculation that he may part ways amid the continuing battle for supremacy in the party, which he formed 25 years ago.
Mulayam’s clarification comes after rumours in political circles that he is likely to announce a new outfit at the press conference along with the virtually defunct Lok Dal, while retaining the ‘samajwadi’ tag in its name.
Blowing hot and cold, the 77-year-old SP patriarch said his blessings were with his son Akhilesh Yadav though he did not agree with the decisions made by him, said report by the PTI.
“I am not forming any party as of now,” Mulayam said at a press conference in Lucknow.
“Baap bete me kab tak matbhed rah sakta hai, koi nahi keh sakta” [No one can say for sure how long differences will remain between father and son],” he said to a question.
Interestingly, Mulayam’s brother and comrade-in-arms Shivpal was not present at the press meet.
When asked about his absence, Mr. Mulayam said he was away in Etawah-Mainpuri — the Yadav bastion — for some important work.
Both Mr. Mulayam and Mr. Shivpal were sidelined by Mr. Akhilesh ever since he snatched the crown of SP chief from his father at the party’s national convention on January 1.
Mr. Mulayam said his son had promised to leave the post of party president after staying at the helm for three months but he did not do so.
“People who cannot stand by their words cannot succeed,” he said, adding, “jo baap ka na hua wo kiska hoga” [one who cannot side with his father, will be of no one],” he said.
Asked as to whether he was with Akhilesh or Shivpal, Mulayam parried a direct reply, saying, “I am with samajwadi people.”
He said that when people were suffering from back-breaking price rise and the BJP had “failed” to fulfil its promises in the past three years, “it is high time for all like-minded people to unite”.
On being asked to comment on Akhilesh terming disgruntled leaders as “fake samajwadi”, Mr. Mulayam said, “only he can tell who he is talking about.”
As soon as Mr. Mulayam’s press conference ended, Akhilesh tweeted, “netaji zinadabad, Samajwadi Party zindabad”.
Ahead of the press meet, strains were palpable as Mulayam and Shivpal had stayed away from a state convention of the party on Saturday, saying they were not invited.
Posters without Mulayam pictures
Posters at the SP convention here did not have pictures of Mr. Mulayam and Mr. Shivpal, giving ample hints about their place in the party.
Last week, Mr. Mulayam replaced Akhilesh loyalist Ram Gopal Yadav with Mr. Shivpal as the secretary of the Lohia Trust, the venue of Monday’s press conference.
Mr. Shivpal announced in June that he would float a ‘Samajwadi Secular Front’ “to fight communal forces”.
Saturday’s convention saw a realignment of forces within the SP. Senior leader Azam Khan attended the event and lashed out at the “people who have betrayed the party”, in an apparent reference to Mr. Shivpal, his one-time friend and confidant.
Another surprise presence was that of MP Beni Prasad Varma, whose inclusion in the party last year was said to have triggered the battle within the family.
On Sunday, in his address, Akhilesh cautioned his supporters against “fake samajwadis”.
As in the past, Akhilesh, however, struck an emotional note when he said, “Netaji [ Mulayam] is my father and this party belongs to him. His blessings are with us and we will carry forward his legacy. My father has always been with us and will remain with us.”
Taking full control of the party after being crowned as its head and alloted the ‘bicycle’ symbol by the Election Commission on January 16, Akhilesh has been going full throttle consolidating his grip over the party.