Lucknow: The feud in UP's ruling Samajwadi Party on Monday came out into the open with a high-voltage drama unfolding in full public view during which party patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav sided with his younger brother Shivpal and friend Amar Singh, and reprimanded son Akhilesh.
However, Mulayam ruled out his son's removal as Chief Minister of the state.
The Shivpal and Akhilesh factions within the once united party came to blows ahead of the meeting called by Mulayam, who made it clear that he would never let go either his brother Shivpal Yadav or long-time aide Amar Singh, who the CM cannot stand.
On two occasions during the marathon meeting attended by Samajwadi Party leaders, Mulayam, 76, shouted his son down, once asking him to shut up and later asking "tumari haisiyat hi kya hai?" (Who the hell are you?), as per IANS.
Today's meeting was a desperate attempt by Mulayam to stamp his authority on SP ahead of crucial Assembly elections early next year but it could not do away with the bitterness within.
He also warned that if the party failed to overcome its cracks, the ugly unprecedented faction fighting would help the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to return to power in the country's most populous state.
There were ugly scenes and name-calling, with Shivpal, the state SP chief, snatching microphone from Akhilesh and calling him a liar, only to make a dramatic appearance at the CM's residence hours later.
The nephew-uncle duo drove in the same car to meet party patriarch Mulayam, who was said to be having a severe toothache, surprising many.
Party observers said the meeting could have been at the behest of Mulayam, who had earlier in the day wished that Akhilesh and Shivpal transcended all differences and hugged each other.
The bile-filled exchanges between top SP leaders came a day after the continuing battle of attrition between Akhilesh and his uncle saw the CM sacking Shivpal and three other ministers close to him, and Mulayam striking back with vengeance expelling from the party for six years his cousin Ram Gopal Yadav.
Ram Gopal, a Rajya Sabha member, has been backing Akhilesh in his fight against Shivpal.
Addressing the gathering Akhilesh ruled out forming a new party, a claim which Shivpal disputed, saying he was prepared to "swear" by his son and "Ganga jal" that the Chief Minister had told him he would indeed float a new party and contest the assembly polls in alliance with some political party.
The proceedings reached a flashpoint when Akhilesh accused Rajya Sabha member Amar Singh, who recently returned to SP, of having planted a story in a leading English Daily in which he was called 'Aurangzeb' and Mulayam 'Shahjahan'.
Shivpal, who was standing close by, was seen snatching away the microphone from Akhilesh and calling him a "liar". "The Chief Minister is lying...The Chief Minister is lying," he told the gathering, as per PTI.
Shivpal also demanded that Mulayam take over the helm of the government.
In his speech, Akhilesh sought to scotch speculation that he was planning to form a new party and offered to step down.
"Let 'Netaji' (Mulayam) install a CM who he feels is honest. Why should I form a new party?" he posed in an emotionally choked voice, calling the SP supremo his "pita (father) and guru (teacher).
The Chief Minister said many people were trying to create divisions within his family using various machinations and that he had taught himself how to oppose any wrong doing.
At one point, 43-year-old Akhilesh appeared to extend an olive branch when he said,"Rath bhi chaley, sthapana diwas bhi maney (my rath yatra will go on and establishment day of the party will be celebrated)."
There has been speculation that he would give the SP's silver jubilee celebration on November 5 by proceeding on his 'rath yatra' two days earlier.
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Amar Singh maintains silence on Akhilesh's accusations
Meanwhile, Amar Singh today said sometimes silence was the best strategic answer to all questions and allegations brought against him.
Giving his "best wishes" to Akhilesh, Singh, once a right-hand man of Mulayam, told PTI "I won't comment on the matter. For me, at times silence is the best strategic answer to all questions and allegations raised against me".
When asked about his reactions to Akhilesh pointing fingers at him, Singh said "I give my best wishes to Akhilesh Yadav. I have wished him on his birthday. He is the son of my supreme leader, my best wishes are with him."
Later at another function, Singh thanked SP supremo and UP Samajwadi Party president Shivpal Yadav for standing beside him.
"I thank Mulayam Singh Yadav and Shivpal Yadav for standing beside me," he said.
(With Agency inputs)