Amid the Yadav family saga and the apparent truce facilitated by Samajwadi Party president Mulayam Singh Yadav, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav today said philosophically “politics is not a game, it is serious business”.
Addressing a hurriedly convened press conference at his 5 Kalidas Marg official residence here, Akhilesh Yadav noted he had never considered politics to be a game, but a tool to effect positive change in society. He repeated the phrase several times while replying to queries even as he urged the cadres to strengthen the Samajwadi Party at the booth level in the run-up to the 2017 Uttar Pradesh polls.
The long speculated Yadav family dispute came to the fore on September 12 with the sacking of two Cabinet ministers, Gayatri Prasad Prajapati and Raj Kishore Singh, which was followed by the removal of Deepak Singhal as the state's chief secretary the following day. Mulayam Singh Yadav's younger brother and Cabinet minister Shivpal Singh Yadav was divested of his portfolio, including the public works department (PWD) and irrigation, by the chief minister after the party supremo replaced Akhilesh Yadav with Shivpal Yadav as the state unit president.
Mulayam Singh Yadav, who had been camping in the national capital, had to rush back to Lucknow as the party seemed headed for a split. The warring factions of Akhilesh Yadav and Shivpal Yadav indulged in slogan shouting and a public display of support for their respective leaders. Under the truce, Shivpal Yadav will be allocated his previous portfolio and will continue as the party's state president. Prajapati will also be re-inducted into the Cabinet. Akhilesh Yadav is likely to be named chairman of the Samajwadi Party's parliamentary board.
Samajwadi Party Rajya Sabha MP Amar Singh, who has been accused by some party leaders, including general secretary and spokesperson Ram Gopal Yadav, of engineering trouble in the Yadav family, is likely to be sidelined. Akhilesh Yadav does not share a rapport with Singh, who is seeking greater say in party and government affairs.
Earlier in the day, Akhilesh Yadav had called upon Shivpal Yadav to congratulate him on his elevation as the party's Uttar Pradesh chief. He reiterated support to his uncle in running the party. However, Akhilesh Yadav said he would like to have a greater say in ticket distribution for the 2017 elections because his government would be on test.
Akhilesh Yadav said the Samajwadi Party would emerge as the largest party in the Assembly and prove the surveys wrong like in 2012. Mulayam Singh Yadav also admonished cadres, saying at a time when the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was fortifying its prospects, party workers were engaged in infighting. Despite the truce, fault lines in the Samajwadi Party run deep and could lead to fresh developments after the 2017 polls.