Lucknow: Hours after branding nephew Akhilesh Yadav a liar, UP Samajwadi Party chief Shivpal Yadav made a dramatic appearance at the Chief Minister's residence tonight, in an apparent attempt at rapprochement.
Party observers said the meeting could have been at the behest of SP patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav, who had earlier in the day wished that Akhilesh and Shivpal transcended all differences and hugged each other at a key SP meeting at the party headquarters here this morning.
However, reports that the two drove in the same car to meet Mulayam, who was having a severe toothache, seemed to be misleading. Instead, ANI reported that Shivpal left the SP chief's residence after CM Akhilesh refused to meet him.
The drama began on Monday when an all-important meeting convened by Mulayam to bring warring factions together on one dais turned ugly in the morning when Shivpal snatched the microphone from the Chief Minister and called him a liar.
After the party supremo asked his son to hug his uncle to bury the hatchet and send a message that all was well in the party, Akhilesh took up the matter of his being referred to as Aurangzeb in an English newspaper.
While Akhilesh was referring to the report in which he was branded as ruthless Mughal emperor Aurangzeb as part of a "conspiracy" and took the name of MLC Ashu Malik to support his claim, Shivpal emerged from behind, snatched his mike and remarked, "CM is telling a lie...I will also speak" bringing the meeting to an abrupt end.
Later, clarifying as to how the scene turned ugly, Malik said he was being called by the chief minister on the dais to tell Mulayam Singh Yadav the truth behind the story published in the newspaper last month.
"It is half truth which led the supporters to create acrimony...I was called by the Chief Minister to tell how I had sent a notice to the newspaper over the issue for which they (newspersons) said they were tipped off by someone in Delhi after which a corrigendum was also published the next day," Malik said.
"But before I could say anything, things turned bad," he said, adding he was manhandled by some partymen at the Chief Minister's residence earlier this morning.
Party patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav sided with his younger brother Shivpal and friend Amar Singh, and reprimanded son Akhilesh Yadav but ruled out his removal as Chief Minister.
Amid speculation about a possible split ahead of the assembly polls, the bitter power struggle in SP's first family played out on stage at a meeting called by its supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav of party legislators, MPs and other leaders where Akhilesh, blowing hot and cold, first offered to step down in a choked voice 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 said, snapping at Akhilesh.
The bile-filled exchanges came a day after the continuing battle of attrition between Akhilesh and his uncle Shivpal Yadav, state SP chief, saw the Chief Minister sacking Shivpal and three other ministers close to him, and Mulayam striking back with vengeance expelling from the party for six years his cousin Ram Gopal Yadav. Ram Gopal, a Rajya Sabha member. has been backing Akhilesh in his fight against Shivpal.
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.
Shivpal also demanded that Mulayam take over the helm of the government.
In his speech, Akhilesh sought to scotch speculation that he was planning to form a new party and offered to step down.
"Let 'netaji' (Mulayam) install a chief minister who he feels is honest. Why should I form a new party?" he posed in an emotionally choked voice, calling the SP supremo his "pita (father) and guru (teacher).
The Chief Minister said many people were trying to create divisions within his family using various machinations and that he had taught himself how to oppose any wrong doing.
At one point, Akhilesh appeared to extend an olive branch when he said,"Rath bhi chaley, sthapana diwas bhi maney (my rath yatra will go on and establishment day of the party will be celebrated)." There has been speculation that he would give the SP's silver jubilee celebration on November 5 by proceeding on his 'rath yatra' two days earlier....