Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, IndiaOct 24, 2016, 06.20 AM
Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav has pledged support to both his son and chief minister of India's largest state Akhilesh Yadav and brother Shivpal Yadav during a clear-the-air meeting on Monday.
He also urged the duo and his party to focus on winning the state election slated for early next year.
'Netaji', as Mulayam is fondly called by his party members, also put his weight behind senior party leader Amar Singh, saying that he was ready to "forgive" all sins committed by him. Singh has been blamed by people close to Akhilesh for creating divisions in the party.
I can't leave Amar Singh or Shivpal Yadav. All of Amar Singh's sins are forgiven: Mulayam Singh Yadav
Fissures appeared on Sunday when Akhilesh sacked his uncle Shivpal along with three other ministers from his cabinet. Mulayam Yadav then expelled Ramgopal, who is considered to be close to Akhilesh, from the party for six years.
The intra-party rift is particularly damaging for Samajwadi Party as it comes barely a few months before the state election is held.
The party meeting called by Mulayam Yadav to resolve the differences was an emotionally-charged affair, with Akhilesh breaking down during his speech to his father and party workers.
Akhilesh also dismissed rumours about him wanting to form a new party. "Who is forming a party? I am not," he said during his address.
The 43-year-old also offered to step down as the chief minister if his father asked him to.
Shivpal, who spoke right after the chief minister's speech, insisted that Akhilesh had told him of his desire to float a new political party. "Akhilesh said he would form a new political party, he said it, he said it to me," Shivpal said.
The bad blood between the chief minister and his uncle is being blamed, by some sections, on Amar Singh. Singh was at one time Mulayam's right-hand man until he was suspended from the Samajwadi Party in 2010. He rejoined the party this May but does not now wield his earlier clout. Singh though is still thought of as being close to Mulayam, while the Akhilesh camp is thought not to approve of him.
PTI reported prominent Samajwadi Party leader Azam Khan as blaming "one single outsider" for the "unfortunate" developments.
In what is thought of as a reference to Singh, he said, "It is happening due to one single outsider who has penetrated into the ruling party's family and I have been apprising my colleagues about his detrimental presence in the party."
But other sections blame the rift on Mulayam Yadav's second wife Sadhna Gupta Yadav, who is reportedly miffed that her son Prateek has not been allowed to join the family profession of politics.
Rival supporters exchange blows
Earlier in the day, supporters of rival camps clashed outside the party headquarters ahead of the crucial meeting.
Police had to use force to disperse the slogan-shouting supporters who tried to break the cordon to march towards the party office.