Lucknow, Aug 16: Barely two months after it called off the merger, Samajwadi Party today appeared all set to embrace gangster-turned-politician Mukhtar Ansari's Quami Ekta Dal (QED) ahead of 2017 UP Assembly polls amid widening fault lines in the ruling party in Uttar Pradesh. "Netaji (Mulayam Singh Yadav) has agreed to QED's merger with SP.
A formal announcement regarding this can be expected soon," said a senior party leader privy to the development. Talk of QED's merger with SP in the near future gained momentum since yesterday after the SP supremo backed his brother and cabinet minister Shivpal Yadav at a flag hoisting function on the occasion of Independence Day.
A bitter feud within the Yadav family on the issue of the controversial merger came to light for the first time when Shivpal announced the merger in June 21.
However, a meeting of SP parliamentary board abruptly called off the merger on June 25 with Mulayam giving in to pressure from his son and Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav who wanted the SP to keep its distance from Mukhtar, who is in jail facing serious criminal cases.
Shivpal had announced the merger when Akhilesh, who is the state party chief, was away from the state capital reflecting that top functionaries in the party were not on the same page. QED, which has its area of influence in eastern parts of Uttar Pradesh, has two MLAs -- mafia don Mukhtar and his brother Sigbatullaha Ansari.
Their brother Afzal is the party president. Shivpal has in the recent times threatened to resign and has made veiled criticism of the Uttar Pradesh government. Mulayam, while coming out in support of Shivpal, yesterday said if he left the Samajwadi Party, it will get divided into factions. According to party insiders, Mulayam has given permission to Shivpal to facilitate the merger.