Shivpal shocker: To float new party, back SP 'rebels'

Shivpal shocker: To float new party, back SP 'rebels'
Throwing a fresh challenge to Akhilesh Yadav, his sidelined uncle Shivpal today announced that he will float a party after election results are out on March 11 and threatened to back "rebel" candidates.

"You make the government, we will make a new party," Shivpal said after filing his nomination papers for Jaswantnagar seat on SP ticket drawing a sharp retort from his nephew and new party chief Akhilesh who said in Etah that those working against the its interest will not be spared.

The Chief Minister asserted that he had party patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav's blessings even as Shivpal's outburst came as a setback to SP which, having sealed a pre-poll pact with Congress, appeared to be picking up pace in the poll campaign after the bitter turf war between the uncle and nephew threatened to derail it.

"There was a lot of speculation but I have for now filed my nomination papers as a Samajwadi Party candidate," said Shivpal, who has been virtually isolated after Akhilesh took over the reins of the party and removed him as state chief.

The senior Samajwadi Party leader not only announced that he would form a new party but went a step ahead by declaring his support to those who were denied party tickets by Akhilesh and were contesting as "rebels".

After filing his papers, the 61-year-old four-time MLA from Jaswantnagar, told a public meeting that he "has been obliged (by Akhilesh) by getting party ticket...or else I would have contested as an Independent."

"Many supporters wanted me to contest as Independent... had that been the case, I would have been free. I filed my nomination papers, there were a lot of hurdles but I still filed the papers on SP's cycle symbol," he said.

Akhilesh gave in to his father Mulayam's request that Shivpal be fielded by the party from Jaswantnagar in Etawah district, considered the home turf of the ruling Yadav clan.

"I will remain solidly behind Netaji (Mulayam) till my last breath... I had told the chief minister that everything is acceptable but not Netaji's humiliation," he said.

Opposing the SP-Congress alliance, Shivpal said, "Six months ago, what was the condition of the Congress? It would have won four seats. So who got the advantage? Congress got. Our people lost tickets." UP has 403-member Assembly.

Those working against the party's interest will not be spared, the Chief Minister, without take any name while speaking in Etah, 100 km away, almost minutes after his warring uncle spoke.

"The entire family is one...I have the blessings of Netaji... we will win over 300 (of the 403) seats in alliance with Congress this time," Akhilesh told a public meeting later in Sikandaru.

Asserting that Samajwadi Party's rise was due to Mulayam alone, and that he had attempted to convince Akhilesh to let his father remain the party chief, Shivpal claimed that those who rose through the party ranks because of Mulayam have now done things to hurt and embarrass him.

"Netaji was attacked because he and I were speaking out against those who were indulged in wrongdoing. I repeatedly requested Akhilesh not to insult Mulayam Singh but he didn't listen," he claimed.

Shivpal also highlighted the work done by his ministry. "We ran the government for five years, was my ministry's performance inferior to others?" he posed.

Having been marginalised in the new arrangement in the party after his nephew Akhilesh took over the reins, Shivpal has been completely ignored in campaigning too with his name not figuring anywhere in the list of Samajwadi Party's star campaigners.

He, like Mulayam has expressed his unhappiness over the alliance with Congress. His outburst is being viewed in the ruling party circles as a major internal setback to the fledging SP-Congress coalition, which is also being opposed by a section of Muslims, the traditional votebank of the two allies -- much to the delight of BSP, another key contender.

Shivpal's elevation as chief of the Uttar Pradesh unit of the Samajwadi Party had triggered a massive turf war between him and Akhilesh last year, threatening a split within the party.

The Election Commission had earlier this month declared the Akhilesh faction as the Samajwadi Party, and granted it the use of the 'bicycle' symbol for the polls.

Akhilesh won control over his party as well as its symbol, but the rift appears to remain unresolved.

After taking over the reins of the party, Akhilesh has handed his father, who launched Samajwadi Party 25 years ago, an advisory role as mentor and has been taking all crucial decisions on the UP elections including sealing an alliance with Congress.

Meanwhile, reacting to Shivpal's statement, SP spokesman Sunil Singh Yadav said, "Now there will be no effect of anyone's statement on people. The alliance of party with Congress will give a new direction to not only the state but country also."

"People of UP have made up their mind to make Akhilesh Yadav's government again. Now everyone is free to make a (new party) whenever one wants," he said.

The seven-phase Uttar Pradesh election begins on February 11 and will end on March 8. Votes will be counted on March 11.
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