Uttar Pradesh: Knives are out as Yadav clan fights for supremacy

Mulayam Singh-Shivpal Yadav loyalists would like the SP-Congress alliance to come third. It is a battle for survival, they admit, a crusade that they are waging

Photo by Biswajeet Banerjee
Photo by Biswajeet Banerjee

Biswajeet Banerjee

Shuru hone ko hai naya safar

jawab dega Jaswant Nagar


(A new journey is about to start; the answer will come from Jaswantnagar).


The couplet on a hoarding with pictures of Mulayam Singh Yadav and his younger brother Shivpal Singh Yadav raises eyebrows. What kind of a ‘new’ journey is Shivpal Singh Yadav talking about, and how will Jaswantnagar respond?


“A big battle lies ahead… I mean after the election. That will be the battle for survival,” Yadav tells this reporter at Jaswantnagar. “I stand by my supporters. These hoardings have been put up by my supporters. In a democracy, you have to listen to people’s voice,” he declared philosophically.


Another couplet put on a banner talks about Shivpal’s sacrifice for the party:


Hur dum jale mashaal ki tarah;

Koi jee ke dikhaye Shivpal ki tarah


People in Jaswantnagar are said to be rooting for Shivpal Singh Yadav, but the party support is not visible much on the ground. Loyalists of Shivpal Singh Yadav have arrived from across the state to ensure that he wins this election with a record margin. “We are not receiving much support from Akhilesh’s Samajwadi Party but mantri ji (Shivpal) has a strong support base which would ensure his victory,” claimed a Shivpal loyalist.


Jaswantnagar, the assembly constituency in Etawah, showcases how Samajwadi Party leaders are working at cross-purposes. People close to Mulayam and Shivpal’s cousin, Samajwadi Rajya Sabha MP Prof Ram Gopal Yadav want Shivpal Singh Yadav to lose the election, while Shivpal’s supporters have already started saying that the SP-Congress alliance is coming third.


“Bhai sahib, mark my words—BSP will form the next government. There is race between BJP and SP-Congress alliance for who will come second. In this race BJP will pip the alliance,” a former spokesman of the Samajwadi Party sacked by Akhilesh Yadav asserted.


He had travelled all the way from Lucknow to Etawah to attend Mulayam Singh Yadav’s rally in Jaswantnagar in support of Shivpal Singh Yadav. “Why should I say Akhilesh Yadav zindabad? I was sacked from the party post only because I am a Shivpal loyalist. Yes, I am his man but I had never worked against the party. If Akhilesh did not trust me, why should I have faith in him,” he asked.

Jaswantnagar, the assembly constituency in Etawah, showcases how Samajwadi Party leaders are working at cross-purposes. People close to Mulayam and Shivpal’s cousin, Samajwadi Rajya Sabha MP Prof Ram Gopal Yadav want Shivpal Singh Yadav to lose the election, while Shivpal’s supporters have already started saying that the SP-Congress alliance is coming third.

There were around 20 SP leaders, some of them from eastern Uttar Pradesh, who had arrived to show their solidarity with Shivpal Yadav. A leader from Deoria said that Akhilesh Yadav has neglected eastern UP. “He should not forget that it was eastern UP that infused life in Samajwadi Party. Have people forgotten Ramkola kaand,” he wondered aloud.


“We shepherd voters to polling booths. Now we will not do that. Do you think without our support people will vote for the SP candidate? Kabhi nahi (Never),” he said.


There is a feeling in Jaswantnagar that Prof Ram Gopal Yadav has started a whisper campaign against Shivpal. The latter is guarded in his speeches but openly hinting at it. “There is an attempt from within the family to defeat me. Meri izzat aapke haath mein hai (my honour is now in your hands)” he said.


The fight within the family has started casting a dark cloud on Yadav land. Mulayam Singh and Shivpal have refused to go outside Jaswantnagar for electioneering. “It is unimaginable that Mulayam Singh will not canvass in Mainpuri, Etah, Kannauj and Badaun—the region dominated by Yadavs. Without him how can SP win votes there,” asks Santosh Yadav, an SP supporter.


People talk in low voices about how Shivpal Yadav is damaging SP as he does not want the SP-Congress alliance to form the next government. A rebel SP candidate Ashish Rajput, who is contesting from Etawah city assembly constituency on a Lok Dal ticket, shared the dais with Mulayam and Shivpal Singh in Jaswantnagar. Sitting SP legislators Raghuraj Shakya and Shukhdevi Ram, who have been denied tickets are also actively campaigning for Shivpal.


“This is a dharamyudh (a crusade). Watch out for March 11. Ab to naya safar shuru hone ko hai,” Shivpal Singh said as his supporters shouted “Shivpal Bhaiya zindabad”.

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