The rift in Samajwadi Party widened further on October 21 as Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav skipped a crucial meeting called by state party chief Shivpal Yadav to strategise for the assembly polls due early next year. Shivpal also named Akhilesh as the Chief Ministerial face during the meeting.
Though Shivpal, the younger brother of SP supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav, had met his nephew Akhilesh to personally invite him to a meeting of SP district and city units presidents, theC hief Minister kept away, indicating all was not well in the party despite repeated protestations by its senior leaders tothe contrary.
Sources present at the meeting said Shivpal, apparently seeking to bury the hatchet, made it clear that Akhilesh will be Samajwadi Party's chief ministerial candidate, days after Mulayam virtually left the field open by saying the newly elected legislators will choose their leader, something which did not go down well with the camp followers of the incumbent CM.
"Akhilesh Yadav will be the next CM, if party is voted topower. He will be our CM candidate," Shivpal said, according to a leader present at the meeting where delegates were not allowed to carry mobile phones. Shivpal asked them to gear up for elections and also to ensure that the party's silver jubilee celebrations on November 5 in the state capital was a grand show.
"You all should start preparations for November 5 event and make it a big success," Shivpal told them.
Akhilesh, with whom Shivpal is engaged in a running feud over the last few months, has already made it clear in a letter to the Samajwadi Party boss and his father Mulayam that he would be proceeding on his 'rath yatra' on November 3 to highlight the development work done by his government, in a clear indication that he would skip that event too.
With the tense stand-off between Akhilesh and Shivpal continuing, speculations about a possible split are rife withsome even suggesting a new party named National SamajwadiParty or Pragatisheel Samajwadi party with motorcycle as itssymbol could be formed by the Chief Minister ahead of theassembly elections.