All eyes on Mu­layam as game of throne hits SP

YA­DAV VS YA­DAV Akhilesh, Shiv­pal down­play rift af­ter CM clips un­cle’s wings

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - HT Navi Mumbai Live - - FRONT PAGE - Pankaj Jaiswal and Umesh Raghu­van­shi let­ters@hin­dus­tan­times.com

Sa­ma­jwadi Party pa­tri­arch Mu­layam Singh Ya­dav strug­gled on Wed­nes­day to end a power strug­gle be­tween his chief minister-son Akhilesh and brother Shiv­pal, a pub­lic feud that is threat­en­ing to dam­age the prospects of Ut­tar Pradesh’s po­lit­i­cal first fam­ily in state elec­tions next year.

Shiv­pal, who rushed to Delhi to meet Mu­layam a day af­ter chief minister Akhilesh Ya­dav stripped him of key port­fo­lios, de­nied dif­fer­ences in the party but is un­der­stood to have told the SP chief that he was be­ing painted the vil­lain in the power strug­gle.

In Luc­know, Akhilesh said the de­vel­op­ments are “po­lit­i­cal is­sues” and de­nied a fam­ily dis­pute, adding that most de­ci­sions are taken by Mu­layam and “some by me”.

The churn­ing could have far-reach­ing con­se­quences if Mu­layam fails to con­trol the dam­age fast to pre­vent a voter back­lash in the assem­bly elec­tions due early next year.

Akhilesh’s ac­tions are be­ing seen as an at­tempt to as­sert him­self in the part long dom­i­nated by his fa­ther and un­cle Shiv­pal who have been seen as the real pow­ers be­hind the throne.

Shiv­pal, who was snubbed by Akhilesh on other oc­ca­sions, had threat­ened to quit the gov­ern­ment ear­lier. He is now said to be even mulling leav­ing the party, which he had helped spread its base across the state and grab power thrice. “Nei­ther I nor ne­taji (Mu­layam) is an­gry. We all are happy...There are no dif­fer­ences,” PTI quoted him as say­ing af­ter the meet­ing.

Sources close to Shiv­pal said he gave ex­am­ples that as a se­nior minister in the Akhilesh gov­ern­ment, he never pub­licly op­posed the de­ci­sions taken by the chief minister or Mu­layam even though he may have ex­pressed dif­fer­ence of opin­ion to them in pri­vate.

The party was thrown into tur­moil on Tues­day night af­ter Akhilesh cur­tailed his un­cle’s pow­ers, within hours of Mu­layam tak­ing away the party’s state pres­i­dentship from his chief minister-son and giv­ing it to brother Shiv­pal.

On Wed­nes­day, Akhilesh can­celled all of­fi­cial en­gage­ments and hud­dled with close aides and party con­fi­dantes.

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