One-upmanship: Akhilesh, Shivpal indulge in shadow boxing

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav
Even as the much-publicised war and the subsequent truce within the ruling Samajwadi Party (SP) plays out in the media and intra-party circles, the two warring factions led by Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav and his uncle Shivpal Singh Yadav continue their bouts of shadow boxing.

The one-upmanship between the two key leaders that represent the Gen-Y and the old guard respectively of the ruling party is getting manifested in decisions taken by the them and their public statements with oblique reference to the now visible fault lines in first family of UP. Their bonhomie is only for public consumption.

Last month, the truce facilitated by party president Mulayam Singh Yadav had witnessed the reinstatement of sacked minister Gayatri Prasad Prajapati into the state cabinet on September 26 and continuation of Shivpal as the party’s UP president. Akhilesh had also been promised say in the selection of party’s candidates for the 2017 UP polls.

However on October 1, Akhilesh stripped Shivpal of two of his ministerial portfolios, namely social welfare and minor irrigation, while allocatin portfolios to newly inducted UP cabinet and ministers of states (MoS). Earlier, Shivpal had already been relieved of his key Public Works Department (PWD) portfolio, which is still being held by the CM.

Now, Shivpal has said the merger with Qaumi Ekta Dal (QED) was already in effect and that there was no need of fresh announcement in this regard. On June 21, Shivpal had announced the merger of the two parties in the presence of QED president Afzal Ansari, the elder brother of incarcerated mafia don and legislator Mukhtar Ansari.

However, Akhilesh had then sternly opposed the decision and later the SP parliamentary board had called off the decision.

The reiteration of the merger with QED has apparently been taken and approved by Mulayam to keep Shivpal in good humour as new developments keep on stoking the talks of deep divide within the party as 2017 elections.

The party’s U-turn on QED issue is a fresh embarrassment to Akhilesh, who is keen to assert his authority in SP.

SP has been gearing up for a major fight against Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) in its bid to retain power.

Meanwhile, the new 81-member SP state executive announced by Shivpal feature several of Shivpal’s aides, while many of Akhilesh’s confidantes had been relieved from the body.

On his part, Akhilesh has been making public statements to imply he has not been on board over several of the party’s recent decisions.

He is also reported to have said SP was projected as number one party in UP in run up to the elections in recent opinion polls, however, he was not sure of the party’s performance at present.

Besides, the party’s planned election campaigns have been postponed due to the squabbling and fresh dates are to be announced in coming weeks.

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