As one of the largest states in India, Uttar Pradesh (UP), gears up for state-level elections slated for next year, fissures are growing within the ruling Samajwadi Party, it seems.
Speculations are rife that senior party leader Shivpal Yadav, who was stripped of key cabinet portfolios by his nephew and chief minister Akhilesh Yadav, is likely to resign from the ruling party, Indian news agency PTI reported today.
The senior leader was stripped of three portfolios, revenue, irrigation and power and works department. after he replaced chief minister Akhilesh Yadav as the party president for the state on Tuesday. Chief minister Akhilesh Yadav had been serving as the state party president for about four years.
"It is the discretion of CM to give (or take) portfolios and remove officers and keep his advisors. I will follow netaji's (leader's) directions and will fulfill responsibilities given by him," Shivpal was quoted as saying by PTI today when asked about speculation on his resignation.
He said that he will abide by the decision of party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav.
Meanwhile, following the latest development, the chief minister has kept the power and works department while irrigation department has been handed over to Awadhesh Prasad and revenue department to party leader Balram Yadav. Shivpal has now been handed over the social welfare department.
Earlier, Shivpal Singh Yadav had reportedly announced the party's first list of 142 candidates for the 2017 polls.
Indian daily DNA observed that the development came hours after Akhilesh shunted out state chief secretary Deepak Singhal, considered close to Shivpal, and replaced him with Rahul Bhatnagar.
Disagreements between Akhilesh and his uncle have been reported on several occasions, including on the choice of official to be appointed as the state's chief secretary after Alok Ranjan's term ended, and the postponement of regional party Qaumi Ekta Dal's merger with Samajwadi Party.
Uttar Pradesh, that has an approximate population of about 200 million, has been an important political battleground for major political parties in India. Grand old party Congress and India's ruling the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have already sounded the election bugle here.