SP splits as convention declares Akhilesh party chief

SP splits as convention declares Akhilesh party chief
Ruling Samajwadi Party today finally split with Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav being anointed the SP president upstaging his father Mulayam Singh Yadav, who yet again expelled Ram Gopal Yadav from the party for six years and termed as illegal all decisions taken at a national convention convened by him.

The national convention, earlier in the day, also proposed the expulsion of "outsider" Amar Singh and removal of Shivpal Singh Yadav from the post of SP's UP chief. Stung by these "decisions", Mulayam struck back, issuing a hard-hitting letter that said the national convention had not been convened with permission of the national president and so all decision taken there are illegal.

"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. The bitter power struggle hit a new low with Mulayam also convening a national convention of the party on January 5 at the same venue here to show people as to who had more clout in the party.

Crisis refused to die down in the party as Akhilesh was "unanimously" crowned the SP national president at the conention a day after over 200 of the 229  party MLAs met him at his residence here at a show of strength which left his father's camp with barely 20 MLAs. The proposal to make Akhilesh SP chief was welcomed by a huge applause by party cadres gathered at the sprawling Janeshwar Misra Park raising their hands.

Ram Gopal also moved a proposal to make Mulayam Singh, the founder president of the party, as party patron and removing Shivpal Yadav from the state unit post. Earlier this morning as soon as the national convention got underway at the park, Mulayam issued a letter declaring the convention as "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," Yadav said in the letter.

Although Mulayam warned that participation in the convention will be taken as indiscipline and action will be initiated against those attending it, almost all the senior leaders who had been longtime associates of Mulayam shared the dais with Ram Gopal and Akhilesh. Soon after being proposed as the national president of the party, Akhilesh said his respect for his father was more than ever and that he would stand against those conspiring against the party.

"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," the chief minister said. "...People might raise questions and level allegations but I said this before and 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 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 have almost left both Mulayam and younger brother Shivpal isolated in the party. Soon after he was made the national president, Akhilesh said, "I had stated that I was ready to step down as the state unit president earlier too, but one person brought the typewriter at Netaji's home and got the letter of my removal from the post typed."

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," Akhilesh said.

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. Blaming Shivpal Yadav for working in an arbitrary manner, he said that tickets were being given to those who are not even members of 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. 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.

Making a dramatic U-turn yesterday, SP revoked the expulsion of Akhilesh and Ramgopal Yadav after a massive show of strength by the chief minister who convened a meeting of SP legislators where over 200 of the 229 party MLAs turned up expressing their loyalty. Reacting to the developments, senior SP leader and MP, Naresh Agrawal 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.

In more signs of defiance, Akhilesh went ahead appointing MLC Naresh Uttam as the new state president, replacing his warring uncle Shivpal. The appointment made by Akhilesh was informed by senior SP leader Rajendra Chaudhary.

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 ventilate their ire.

Despite a heavy deployment of police force outside the party office since the morning, Akhilesh loyalists barged into the premises, prompting Shivpal to allege that the chief minister was "misusing" the police machinery by allowing such hooliganism.

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.

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 gird up their loins and work for the party's thumping victory in the upcoming battle of ballots. In a related development, Mulayam expelled national vice president Kiranmoy Nanda and general secretary Naresh Agarwal from the party. In a letter addressed to Nanda, Mulayam noted that he had taken part in 'emergency national representatives convention' which is not only "unconstitutional but also amounts to anti- party activity".

Citing relevant sections of the party constitution, the letter stated that the said convention was not convened by the national president and despite being a senior member Nanda took part in it. The letter stated "for taking part in the unconstitutional national representatives convention and continuous involvement in anti-party activities, he is being removed from the post of national vice president and he also ceases to be the primary member of the party".

Nanda had chaired this morning's convention convened by Ram Gopal Yadav which appointed Akhilesh as national president, removed Shivpal as state unit chief and expelled Amar Singh from the party formalising a vertical split in SP. Naresh Agarwal has also been expelled from the party for taking part in the convention, a senior party leader said.
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