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SP split imminent as Akhilesh camp ousts Mulayam and Shivpal

By Ians

Lucknow, Jan 1: Uttar Pradesh's ruling Samajwadi Party plunged into a fresh crisis on Sunday as Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav removed his father Mulayam Singh Yadav as the National President, sacked Shivpal Yadav as the state unit head and expelled Rajya Sabha MP Amar Singh.

The meeting stopped short of expelling Mulayam Singh, saying he would be the party's "Marg Darshak".

SP leaders

The decisions were taken at a hurriedly called Emergency Convention of Akhilesh Yadav supporters who elected him the Samajwadi Party's new chief in place of party founder Mulayam Singh.

At the meeting at the Janeshwar Mishra Park in the state capital, senior leader and Akhilesh Yadav's uncle Ram Gopal Yadav moved motions to this effect. These were promptly endorsed by party leaders and thousands of activists with a roar of approval.

Mulayam Singh soon struck back and called the convention illegal. He also expelled Ram Gopal from the party for six years. He was ousted on Friday but taken back as part of a compromise formula later.

Mulayam Singh also announced a convention of his own on January 5.

The Akhilesh camp refused to stick to the so-called compromise formula and went ahead with Sunday's convention, firming up a split in the party.

After a show of strength on Saturday when more than 200 party legislators of the total 229 in the state assembly attended a meeting called by him, Akhilesh Yadav, 43, on Sunday took complete control of the organisation.

Prompted by Akhilesh's uncle Ram Gopal, party veterans, close associates of the SP chief and ministers refused to be deterred by threats from Mulayam Singh. All of them shared the stage with Akhilesh Yadav.

Prominent among them were Rajya Sabha MPs Reoti Raman Singh and Naresh Agarwal and ministers Rajendra Chowdhary, Balram Yadav, Abhishek Mishra, Nitin Agarwal and Ahmad Hasan.

The young brigade included Anand Bhadauria, Sunil Singh 'Sajan' and Udayveer Singh - all MLCs from the Akhilesh camp who had been ousted from the party in October.

They applauded every word Akhilesh Yadav spoke.

Urban Development Minister and senior leader Mohd Azam Khan, who brokered peace on Saturday between the father and son, did not attend the meeting.

In his brief address, the Chief Minister said after being anointed the new national party chief that he was doing all this to save the Samajwadi Party.

He said nothing had changed between him and his father and that he would continue to serve him in the capacity of a son.

Akhilesh Yadav added that his father would be the happiest if the Samajwadi Party won the coming assembly elections, likely to be announced any time now.

Shivpal Yadav, he thundered, had been working against the interests of the party.

"I am ready to sacrifice everything for Samajwadi Party," Akhilesh Yadav said. And to another roar from the gathering, he thanked everyone who have stood by him in the ugly war within the state's first family.

He made it clear that he would take action against those "who act against the party".

There are now two versions of the Samajwadi Party candidates -- one each issued by the Mulayam and Akhilesh camps.

The Mulayam camp said on Sunday that the list issued by it was final. On Saturday, Shivpal Yadav had said they would make a new list to accommodate everyone's concerns.

Meanwhile, supporters of Mulayam Singh and Shivpal Yadav took to the streets and staged sit-ins at several places to protest against the ouster of Mulayam Singh.

Ramgopal Yadav and Akhilesh Yadav were both expelled for six years from the Samajwadi Party by Mulayam Singh on Friday. The decision was revoked a day later -- ahead of the Sunday convention.


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