Akhilesh Yadav supporters declare him Samajwadi Party president, Mulayam Singh calls it 'unconstitutional'
The infighting within Uttar Pradesh's ruling Samajwadi Party (SP) reached a crescendo after the party's general secretary, Ramgopal Yadav, declared chief minister Akhilesh Yadav as the party's national president in place of his father Mulayam Singh Yadav.
Mulayam Singh retaliated by expelling Ramgopal, who is also his cousin, for six years -- for the second time in three days and the third time since October. He also called the National Executive meet called by Ramgopal "unconstitutional" and "illegal", since it was called without consulting him, the party's national secretary.
"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 stated.
Mulayam Singh has called a party convention of his own on January 5 in the state capital, Lucknow. He had earlier issued a letter asking party workers not to attend the National Executive meet called by Ramgopal Yadav.
Soon after he was declared party president, Akhilesh Yadav said, "If there is a conspiracy against Netaji or the party then it will be my responsibility as son to stand against conspirators," PTI reported.
Akhilesh defended his step, saying the decision was a tough one but one he "had to take". He will reportedly move the Election Commission tomorrow, staking a claim to the party's symbol, the cycle, sources told news agency ANI.
At the National Executive meet called by him, Ramgopal also removed Shivpal Yadav from the post of president of the SP's state unit and "sacked" Amar Singh from the party.
Party vice-president Kiranmoy Nanda, who was also expelled from the party for attending the meeting, told ANI, "My best wishes to Akhilesh on becoming party president. He will work under the leadership and guidance of Netaji."
Akhilesh Yadav's supporters removed Shivpal Yadav's nameplate from the party office in Lucknow.
They earlier celebrated outside the SP office after he was elected president at the national executive.
Mulayam Singh's letter, meanwhile, makes no mention of Akhilesh Yadav. It states that the candidates' list issued earlier for the 2017 assembly polls has been endorsed and a decision on the remaining seats will be taken soon.
The father-son trust hit a low in mid-August when Akhilesh got into an acrimonious power struggle with his uncle, Shivpal Yadav.
Things took a turn for the worse on December 30 after Akhilesh "circulated" his own list of 235 candidates for the upcoming state elections parallel to the party's official list of 393 nominees. He and Ramgopal Yadav were expelled from the party for six years the same day by Mulayam Singh.
However, father and son met the next day and Mulayam Singh revoked the suspension, saying he and Akhilesh would jointly prepare the list of election candidates.
The election in Uttar Pradesh is the largest regional election in India.
(WION with inputs from agencies)