Akhilesh son first, leader later, says Mulayam

Akhilesh son first, leader later, says Mulayam

With a message that all is well in the faction-ridden Samajwadi Party (SP), former chief minister Mulayam Singh Yadav said on Wednesday that he had blessed his son Akhilesh Yadav, and would continue to do so.

The father and son shared the dais at the party headquarters here after a long time as workers gathered to wish the SP founder on his 79th birthday.

"He is a son first and leader later," Mulayam said while addressing the workers.

As Mulayam walked to the dais, he was greeted by party leaders, with Akhilesh touching his feet and welcoming him with a shawl.

"I have given my blessing to Akhilesh and will continue to do so. This is an issue of discussion in the country that I blessed Akhilesh. I want to say he is my son and is also in politics," Mulayam said.

He conveyed his message of unity to the SP, which has seen a group led by his supporters rise against party president Akhilesh, as songs hailing the veteran leader played in the background.

Mulayam loyalist and Akhilesh's uncle Shivpal Yadav did not attend the celebrations.

But other supporters, including MLA Ashu Malik and Narad Rai, who joined the BSP during the Assembly polls, accompanied the patriarch.

Giving lessons of "samajwad" (socialism) to the workers, Mulayam held them responsible for the party's poor show in the Assembly elections, in which the party won only 47 of the 403 seats.

"You should all read Lohiaji. Our party always fought for the cause of women and discrimination on the basis of caste, religion and region," Mulayam said.

He also pulled up Akhilesh for giving party positions to those who "cannot win (a seat) even at the level of their village polling booth".

He cited the example of a leader who, Mulayam said, had won only nine votes in his village, when his family itself had 51 members.

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