Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav
A day after Samajwadi Party President Mulayam Singh Yadav declared the party’s parliamentary board and legislators would decide on the next chief minister of Uttar Pradesh if the party returned to power, incumbent Akhilesh Yadav said he would present the next budget as well.
Akhilesh Yadav holds additional charge of the home and finance portfolios and has presented five budgets since 2012 after being named chief minister of Uttar Pradesh. The chief minister was on Saturday informally interacting with the media after addressing a public meeting in Siddharthnagar district, where he unveiled development projects worth Rs 370 crore, including a university. The old guard in the Samajwadi Party, represented by party president Mulayam Singh Yadav and his brother Shivpal Singh Yadav, and the party’s young Turks led by Mulayam Singh Yadav’s son Akhilesh Yadav have been sparring over the past month, exposing fault-lines within the party less than five months before the Assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh.
The feud threatens to derail the election campaign of the party, which faces a stiff challenge from the Bharatiya Janata Party and Bahujan Samaj Party.
Owing to the infighting, the Samajwadi Party was placed third in the reckoning in a pre-poll survey conducted by a news channel.
Replying to a reporter’s query here yesterday, Mulayam Singh Yadav said it was the prerogative of the party’s legislators and parliamentary board to name the next chief minister. “In 2012, the party had sought votes in my name, but I designated Akhilesh Yadav as the chief minister,” he said, adding his son had been given a free hand as chief minister.
In a newspaper interview, Akhilesh Yadav said the Samajwadi Party ought to acknowledge the contribution of youth leaders. He claimed he had almost single handedly mobilised the support of the youth in the run-up to the 2012 Assembly elections.
Last month, an inner-party truce facilitated by Mulayam Singh Yadav witnessed the reinstatement of sacked cabinet minister Gayatri Prasad Prajapati on September 26 and continuation of Shivpal Singh Yadav as the party’s state unit president.
However on October 1, Akhilesh Yadav stripped Shivpal Singh Yadav of two of his ministerial portfolios, social welfare and minor irrigation, and allotted them to other ministers. Earlier, Shivpal Singh Yadav had been relieved of his key public works department portfolio, which is now being held by the chief minister.
On his part, Shivpal Singh Yadav has said the merger of the Qaumi Ekta Dal with the Samajwadi Party was in effect and there was no need for a fresh announcement. On June 21, Shivpal Singh Yadav had announced the merger of the two parties in the presence of the Qaumi Ekta Dal President Afzal Ansari, the brother of imprisoned mafia don and legislator Mukhtar Ansari.
Akhilesh Yadav had opposed the decision and the Samajwadi Party parliamentary board had called off the merger but the merger was approved by Mulayam Singh Yadav to keep his brother in good humour and send a message to his son that he was in control.
Besides, the new 81-member Samajwadi Party state executive named by Shivpal Singh Yadav features several of his aides, while Akhilesh Yadav’s confidantes have been relieved of their responsibilities.