The looming danger of electoral reverses brought the feuding first family of UP's ruling Samajwadi Party together on Thursday as party patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav flagged off son Akhilesh Yadav's 'rath yatra' and Shivpal, with whom the chief minister was locked in a bitter power struggle, extended him his "best wishes".
With the strife between his chief minister son and younger brother Shivpal Yadav threatening to derail the party's campaign barely months ahead of the assembly polls, Mulayam played the role of a peacemaker and brought the two together on one platform at an event, which many felt would be a solo Akhilesh show.
However, ending days of suspense, Mulayam turned up at La Martinere grounds, the venue for the flagging off of Akhilesh Yadav's 'Vikas Se Vijay Ki Ore' yatra, with Shivpal, who heads the SP's state unit, in tow.
Mulayam took his seat on stage and was soon flanked by Akhilesh on one side and Shivpal on the other, as he sought to drive home the message that the party was united ahead of the polls and that he still could call the shots in the party buffeted by the turf war between his son and brother.
"Akhilesh ko hum shubhkamna detey hain (I wish Akhilesh well)," Shivpal said, adding the chief minister's chariot march will send a message of unity across the state and halt BJP in its tracks.
"Our target is to prevent BJP from coming to power in the state in the crucial 2017 elections," he said.
Before embarking on the highly-publicised rath yatra to highlight the development works undertaken by him during the last over four years, the 43-year-old chief minister said, "I want to thank youths for this historic event...From this yatra, we appeal to people to vote in favour of our party."
Akhilesh, however, referred to "conspiracies" which adversely affected the party.
"Due to some conspiracies we were affected a bit, but in the days to come we will be able to form government again," Akhilesh, who has been blaming SP MP and his father's friend Amar Singh for the troubles in the party and family, said.
Days preceding Thursday's event had seen the debilitating battle of attrition between Akhilesh and Shivpal leading to tit-for-tat sacking of ministers and leaders on rival sides.
Even Shivpal was sacked as minister by Akhilesh, after Mulayam, apparently siding with his brother and Amar Singh, expelled his own counsin and SP general secretary Ram Gopal Yadav from the party for six years. Ram Gopal, a Rajya Sabha member, has been backing Akhilesh in the battle for Mulayam's legacy.