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SP splits, Akhilesh takes control

LUCKNOW, Jan 1:

Samajwadi Party today split with rival factions carrying out mutual expulsions as Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav sought to take control of the ruling party in Uttar Pradesh.
In dramatic developments, Akhilesh was “unanimously” crowned the SP president and his warring uncle Shivpal Yadav removed as State party chief at a national convention called by Ram Gopal Yadav, where the CM’s faction claimed that over 200 of the party’s 229 MLAs, around 30 MLCs, besides majority of office bearers of district units were present.
Ram Gopal also moved a proposal to make Mulayam Singh, the founder president of the party, as party patron while “outsider” Amar Singh was expelled from the party.
The proposal to make Akhilesh SP chief was welcomed by a huge applause by nearly 5,000 partymen who had gathered at the sprawling Janeshwar Misra Park here.
Mulayam soon struck back expelling his cousin Ram Gopal from the party for six years and termed as illegal all decisions taken at the convention.
In a hard-hitting letter, he said the convention had not been called with permission of the national president and so all decisions, taken there were illegal.
Although Mulayam warned that participation in the convention will be taken as indiscipline and action will be initiated against those attending it, almost all senior leaders who had been longtime associates of Mulayam shared the dais with Ram Gopal and Akhilesh.
Addressing the convention, Akhilesh said he respected his father more than ever and that he would stand against those conspiring against the party while Ramgopal attacked Shivpal for working in an “arbitrary” manner, alleging tickets were being given to those who are not even members of the party.
The convention also authorised Akhilesh to constitute a national executive, Parliamentary board and various state units, as required, and inform the Election Commission of the developments at the earliest.
The fresh developments which almost left both Mulayam and younger brother Shivpal isolated in the party came a day after SP revoked the expulsion of Akhilesh and Ramgopal amid the running bitter turf battle in the Yadav clan which threatens to affect its prospects in the upcoming Assembly election.
In more signs of defiance, Akhilesh appointed MLC Naresh Uttam as the new State president, replacing Shivpal.
Mulayam retorted by expelling national vice president Kiranmoy Nanda and general secretary Naresh Agarwal from the party for taking part in the convention.
Soon after the appointment of the new State unit president, supporters of Akhilesh laid siege to the State SP headquarters here in the high security VIP zone and forcibly wrenched out the nameplate of Shivpal to vent their ire.
Mulayam has also convened a national convention of the party on January 5 at the same venue here.
Earlier this morning as soon as the national convention got underway at the park, Mulayam issued a letter declaring it “unconstitutional”.
“Today a so-called convention has been convened by Ram Gopal. This is against party constitution and discipline. This has been convened to damage the party,” he said.
“The Parliamentary board of the party declares all the proposals, decisions and the convention itself illegal and expels Ram Gopal, who convened the convention, for six years,” the letter said.
Soon after his name was proposed as the national president of the party, Akhilesh said, “Those who conspired against the party, damaged it and also posed problems before the national president…Should know that my respect for the national president (Mulayam Singh) will be more than before.”
“…People might raise questions and level allegations but I said this before and I say it again that as his son if there is any conspiracy against the party and him it is my duty to stand against them,” he said.
“I had said that I was ready to step down as State unit president earlier too… He had made me the CM and gave me a chance to work…,” he said.
The Chief Minister said, “All want that SP comes back to power but there are some who do not want this…Netaji would be most elated if the party forms the next Government…I have been given the responsibility to make the next Government on one more time.
“Netaji’s respect and position is supreme for us…These three-four months are very important….Don’t know who all can come together and force certain decisions.”
In his address at the convention, Ram Gopal said that all are aware that the Government was working well but two persons conspired and got Akhilesh removed from the State president’s post and posed a big problem in the party.
“The State unit president gave tickets to those who were not even member of the party… Despite directives from the national president, the State unit president revoked the suspension of those shown the door…It is clear that some people do no want SP to return to power and Akhilesh to become the chief minister again,” he said, attacking Shivpal.
When the problems became insurmountable the party workers gave him a request in writing to convene an emergency convention and he waited for two months before convening today’s meeting, Akhilesh said.
Reacting to the developments, senior SP leader and MP, Naresh Agarwal said, “When lakhs of people have chosen Akhilesh as the party president, then who has the right to remove anyone.
“Netaji is our leader, we all respect him. I would like to tell Netaji that if your son is moving forward and is making you proud, then you should shun your relations with the people who are trying to break your family and because of whom there is a feud within the party.
“If Netaji still doesn’t pay heed to the public opinion, then it is unfortunate,” he said.
Heavy deployment of UP police and contingents of PAC was seen outside the party office on Vikramadiyta Marg where supporters of Shivpal too protested his removal from the post of state SP chief, often coming to blows and giving the police a trying time in controlling the crowd.
Akhilesh loyalists barged into the premises of party headquarters, prompting Shivpal to allege that the Chief Minister was “misusing” the police machinery by allowing such hooliganism.
Soon after arriving at the party office to take charge, Naresh Uttam said that his aim would be to ensure the victory of SP in the coming Assembly polls and make Akhilesh the Chief Minister again.
To a question, he said Akhilesh will decide the tickets on the remaining seats.
Uttam also addressed party workers in the office, asking them to work for the party’s thumping victory in the upcoming battle of ballots.
Nanda was expelled after he chaired this morning’s convention. Naresh Agrawal has also been expelled from the party for taking part in the convention, a senior party leader said. (PTI)

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