(From L to R) Senior SP leader Shivpal Singh Yadav, SP Chief Mulayam Singh Yadav and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav.
About five months ahead of the 2017 Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls, the Samajwadi Party (SP) is staring at a possible split, thanks to a widening rift within the Yadav family. Even as tough challenges loom for the party from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), the tumult within the party shows no signs of ebbing.
The family rift took a dramatic turn on Sunday, with Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav sacking his uncle Shivpal Singh Yadav, along with three other ‘pro-Amar Singh’ ministers in the state Cabinet.
Meanwhile, SP supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav, in a tit-for-tat action, expelled Ramgopal Yadav, a cousin and the party’s national general secretary who is known to be pro-Akhilesh, from SP for six years.
Business Standard brings you the chronology of how the rift within the Samajwadi Party has widened in the past five months:
Quami Ekta Dal merges with Samajwadi Party in UP
Quami Ekta Dal (QED), with two members of the Uttar Pradesh Assembly, merged with the ruling Samajwadi Party. "QED has merged with SP which would strengthen the party," Shivpal Yadav had said. QED’s two MLAs are Mukhtar Ansari from Mau Sadar and Sigbatullaha Ansari from Mohammadabad Yusufpur seat. QED also claims to have a strong hold over the Muslim vote bank in the state.
ALSO READ: Quami Ekta Dal merges with Samajwadi Party in UP
SP-QED merger announced with Mulayam's consent, says Shivpal
Amid murmurs of discontent in the Samajwadi Party over the controversial merger with gangster-turned-politician Mukhtar Ansari's QED, Shivpal Singh Yadav said he had announced the decision with the consent of party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav. A day after Akhilesh indicated his uneasiness with the merger and unhappiness with sacked Cabinet minister Balram Yadav, who apparently facilitated the merger, Shivpal said everything was "alright in the party".
We don't need people like Mukhtar Ansari, says Akhilesh Yadav
Without mincing words, Akhilesh expressed his resentment over the merger with Mukhtar Ansari's party, saying "Mukhtar Ansari will not be welcome in the party. We don't want such people in the party", during a television show. He added he didn't take the decision regarding the merger of the two parties.
Shivpal replaces Akhilesh as the party’s new UP chief
The rift within the Samajwadi Party widened, as Mulayam Singh Yadav replaced his son Akhilesh with his brother Shivpal as the state unit chief. "SP President Mulayam Singh Yadav has appointed you as the president of the Uttar Pradesh unit. It is hoped that with your hard work, you will further strengthen the party," SP National General Secretary Ramgopal Yadav said in a letter addressed to Shivpal Singh Yadav.
Akhilesh removes Shivpal from key ministerial portfolios
An open war broke out in the Samajwadi Party with Akhilesh stripping uncle Shivpal of key ministerial portfolios, hours after his removal as the party's state unit chief. After Mulayam made his brother Shivpal the UP unit head, in an angry retort, Akhilesh clipped his uncle's wings by stripping him of the plum PWD, irrigation and cooperative portfolios.
Shivpal quits as minister and SP chief
Shivpal Singh Yadav submitted his resignation as the Samajwadi Party's state unit head and as a minister in the Cabinet of Akhilesh, with whom he was at loggerheads. Shivpal submitted his resignation from both the posts to Mulayam, who rushed to Lucknow from Delhi to douse the flames that threatened to hurt the ruling party in the coming Assembly polls.
No way party will be divided, says Mulayam
Mulayam Singh Yadav tried to make light of the ongoing battle of supremacy in the party between Akhilesh and Shivpal, saying there was no way the party would get divided till he was around. Addressing workers at the state headquarters after separate meetings with both the warring leaders, Mulayam also said SP was not just a political entity but a family for him.
Portfolios will be given back to Shivpal, says Akhilesh
In a move signalling some calm in the turbulence, Akhilesh Yadav announced his uncle Shivpal would get back all his previous ministerial portfolios. He also announced that sacked minister Gayatri Prajapati would be inducted into the Cabinet as well.
Shivpal expels Akhilesh’s close aides
The war within the first family of Uttar Pradesh intensified with the newly appointed state Samajwadi Party President Shivpal expelling at least seven leaders of SP youth wings, including three legislators. Most of the expelled leaders were considered close to Akhilesh Yadav.
Amar Singh appointed SP Gen Secy by Mulayam
Amar Singh, who survived the recent "outsider" storm in ruling Samajwadi Party, was appointed SP General Secretary by Mulayam Singh Yadav. "You have been appointed general secretary of the Samajwadi Party. I hope in the coming days you will strengthen the party in Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections," Mulayam said in a handwritten letter to Amar.
QED merger will strengthen SP, says Misbahuddin Ahmad
After months of squabble in the Yadav clan and the Samajwadi Party over the merger of mafia-turned-MLA Mukhtar Ansari-led Qaumi Ekta Dal, the latter party’s state leader Misbahuddin Ahmad said everyone was aware of the merger and there was no need to announce the merger again.
ALSO READ: Quami Ekta Dal merger will strengthen Samajwadi Party
Akhilesh, Shivpal indulge in shadow boxing
Even as the much-publicised war and the subsequent truce within the Samajwadi Party played out in the media and intra-party circles, the two warring factions continued their bouts of shadow boxing. The one-upmanship between Akhilesh and Shivpal, representing the Gen-Y and the old guard of the party, respectively, got manifested in decisions taken by them and their public statements with oblique reference to the now visible fault lines in the Yadav family. Their bonhomie was only for public consumption.
No rift in SP, we are all 'sewaks' of Akhilesh, says Amar Singh
Denying any rift in the Samajwadi Party, Amar Singh said all in the party were 'sewaks' of Akhilesh. "There is no rift in the party. We are all sewaks of Akhilesh as the work of an organisation is 'seva' (service). Our chief ministerial face (for the 2017 state Assembly polls) is Akhilesh," he said.
It’s official: Akhilesh is SP’s CM candidate for 2017 polls
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav was the ruling Samajwadi Party’s official chief ministerial candidate for the 2017 state polls, a top party leader said. This came three days after party president Mulayam Singh Yadav emphasised that in the event of the party securing majority, the CM would be selected by the SP legislators and the parliamentary board.
Akhilesh skips meeting convened by Shivpal
Akhilesh Yadav skipped an important meeting convened by his uncle Shivpal. Akhilesh chose to skip the meet despite Shivpal calling upon the CM and trying to impress upon him to attend. This signified the deep divide and acrimony in the party's rival factions represented by Akhilesh and Shivpal over greater control in party and government ahead of the 2017 polls.
Akhilesh’s close aide expelled from party
Udayveer Singh, a Samajwadi Party MLC and one of the closest aides of Akhilesh Yadav, was expelled from the party for "undignified" conduct, days after he wrote to Mulayam Singh Yadav suggesting he elevate the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister as the party's national president.
Akhilesh sacks uncle Shivpal, 4 other ministers from UP Cabinet
In a swift and sudden move, Akhilesh sacked his uncle Shivpal Singh Yadav as a senior minister in his Cabinet. Akhilesh also sacked four other ministers -- Narad Rai, Om Prakash, Shadab Fatima, Gayatri Prasad Prajapati – all considered close to Shivpal. Soon after, Mulayam expelled Ramgopal Yadav, considered close to Akhilesh, from the Samajwadi Party for six years. Shivpal alleged this was done as Ramgopal was involved in anti-party activities.