Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav insisted on Tuesday that the "party and family are united" but remained evasive on whether his brother Shivpal Yadav will be reinstated in the Akhilesh Yadav cabinet.
Amid a deep divide in the party and the family, Mulayam, flanked by party's state unit chief Shivpal Yadav and three other sacked ministers, addressed a press conference in Lucknow where chief minister and his son Akhilesh was conspicuous by his absence.
To send out a message, Mulayam said that SP had come to power in 2012 because of him only and still Akhilesh was made the chief minister.
He however, ruled out becoming the chief minister with assembly elections barely few months away.
"My entire life is devoted for the welfare of the people and I will continue to work for them," he added.
Mulayam strongly defended party MP Amar Singh, who is being blamed by the Akhilesh faction for the problems in the family, asking "why to drag him in all this"? "My family and party are united. All workers are united. There are some conspirators, who do not have any mass base," Mulayam told a hurriedly convened press conference.
"There is not 'matbhed' (indifference) or 'manbhed' (ill feelings) among our leaders," Yadav said.
Asked whether Shivpal and other sacked ministers would then be reinstated in the Akhilesh cabinet, he said, "I leave this to CM.... You ask him why he made them ministers and why he sacked them."
Appearing cautious while replying to a questions, Mulayam said, "I will not make any single controversial statement. Whatever you may ask."
To a question whether he would take over the reins of the state from his son Akhilesh, the SP supremo said, "Why will I consider it now when assembly elections are just few months away."
Mulayam said the model code of conduct will come into force in November or December and government will not be able to work freely.
Sacked ministers Om Prakash Singh, Narad Rai and Sayeda Shadab Fatima were also present, besides tainted minister Gayatri Prajapati.
On brother Ramgopal Yadav's statement, Mulayam said, "I do not give him any importance now." About party's chief ministerial candidate for 2017, Malayam said, "Ours is a democratic party. First let us get majority and then elected representatives will select their CM. Presently, Akhilesh is CM, does anyone have any problem?"
Earlier in the day, Shivpal said all was well in the party, a day after high drama at a key meeting of the ruling party.
He visited Mulayam's residence and was soon joined by the chief minister.
"All is well in the party and the Mulayam family. I am with 'netaji' (Mulayam). We will abide by whatever directive is given by him," he said.
Shivpal was answering questions from media persons at the SP headquarters which had witnessed a high drama and ugly scenes with Shivpal calling his nephew Akhilesh a "liar" and even snatching the mike from him on Monday.
Shivpal drove to the residence of Mulayam to see the SP supremo who is suffering from severe toothache.
Outside the state SP headquarters, tension once again ran high with followers of Shivpal and Akhilesh raising slogans in favour of their respective leaders.
Police had to be deployed in large number outside the SP central office in view of the clashes between supporters of rival sides.
Cordons were set up this morning on the roads leading to Vikramaditya Marg where the SP office is situated.
Though no official meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, informal talks were on since Monday night for a rapprochement between Shivpal and Akhilesh as their growing chasm has cast a shadow over the electoral prospects of the party ahead of the 2017 assembly polls.
At Monday's meeting, Mulayam sided with his younger brother Shivpal and friend Amar Singh, and reprimanded son Akhilesh but ruled out his removal as chief minister.
Akhilesh first had offered to step down but later accused Amar Singh and those close to him of hatching a "conspiracy" against him and his father.
There were sharp exchanges between Akhilesh and Mulayam, who virtually dismissed him as an insignificant entity in UP politics who could not win an election without his support.
"What is your capability? Can you win elections?" he had said, snapping at Akhilesh.
Addressing the gathering Akhilesh ruled out forming a new party, a claim which Shivpal disputed, saying he was prepared to "swear" by his son and "Ganga Jal" that the chief minister had told him he would indeed float a new party and contest the assembly polls in alliance with some political party.
The proceedings reached a flashpoint when Akhilesh accused Rajya Sabha member Amar Singh, who recently returned to SP, of having planted a story in a leading English daily in which he was called 'Aurangzeb' and Mulayam 'Shahjahan'.